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Notorious crime journalist slain

A journalist who had written articles and a book on crime figures was gunned down on 5 January in the Bulgarian capital, Sofia, report the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) Index on Censorship and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ).

Bobi Tsankov, 30, was with two bodyguards in downtown Sofia when two gunmen fired at them, report IFEX members. The bodyguards were hospitalised. Three crime bosses were arrested the same day, report IFEX members.

A recent article by Tsankov alleged that a local crime boss had ordered the killing of a rival, reports CPJ. He was preparing to reveal details about the killing of three Bulgarian crime chiefs on a popular television show.

His book, "The Secrets of the Gangsters", published late last year, was based on information from friends and contacts in the underworld, reports Index on Censorship. Tsankov claims to have been close to many crime bosses who were murdered in recent years, says CPJ. He was working on a new book about drug traffickers.

But Tsankov was a murky figure himself. He was notorious for taking money for advertising that he did not air on his radio show, and in 2006 he was convicted of fraud, says CPJ. He was also the director of a radio station owned by a drug boss, reports Index on Censorship. A Bulgarian police official claims his book includes fictional stories about dead crime bosses. A Sofia-based journalist told Index on Censorship that the fabrications may have cost him his life, "noting that someone who pretends to have access to mobsters and chronicles false tales is likely to have a long list of enemies." Another Bulgarian journalist told Index on Censorship that there were plenty of people who would have wanted him dead because of the money he stole.

Tsankov survived two explosions at his home in 2003 and 2004.

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