Special Task Force Policeman Leads Hijacking of BADR Tanker

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Alexander Vassilev Longochev, a policeman from the special police task force in the Bulgarian capital (SPS-Sofia), has boarded the BADR tanker dressed in a security guard uniform of Bashev Team & Security. He has been identified by the ship’s Captain Abdullah Abdul Jalil as one of the people who hijacked the tanker on December 21, 2018.

Before joining the special police force, Longochev has been a policeman at the Fifth Police Precinct. He has an impressive appearance and is well-built, but he is not very tall. He presents himself as Sasha Belov, a character from the Russian series “Brigade”, which can be probably attributed to his Russophile posts on social networks. He has an active profile in the Russian social network VKontakte (ВКонтакте, meaning InContact).

Bivol sent pictures of Longochev to the Libyan company for identification. They confirmed that this person had been the chief of the private guards who accompanied the uniformed policemen and Maritime Administration officers. The Ministry of Interior press office confirmed that Longochev is one of their employees, but did not comment on the fact that he had been leading a group of thugs on December 21 in a openly pirate act against a foreign ship.

] Alexander Longochev – Sasha Belov

According to the captain’s narrative, on December 21, about 30 armed persons from two cutters – one of border police and one of Maritime Administration boarded the ship. Most wore the uniform of Bashev Team & Security. The company is associated with the thugs of Ivaylo “The Torino” Borisov, who rose to fame two years ago for beating innocent citizens on the Sofia beltway.

It turns out that an active policeman is working for this private company, and it is so far unknown whether he is the only one or has been accompanied by other police officers disguised as thugs.

According to the notarized report of the Captain (see below), the thugs – security guards have behaved aggressively and have enjoyed special attention and visible privileges on the part of the civil servants. The Captain, his assistants and sailors have been threatened, cussed, struck, beaten and forcibly removed from the ship. The armed men have behaved like attackers – demonstratively aggressively and rudely. They have literally occupied the ship and have warned everyone that they have no right to use their phones, threatening them at gunpoint. They have also installed a communications jamming and muting system.

The Captain has tried to resist the pirate attack, but has been forced with blows, kicks and threats to leave the ship. He says that he has been kicked by a uniformed policeman. The Ministry of Interior has firmly denied his words.

Eventually, the crew have been forced to disembark the tanker and have been deported from Bulgaria. The 62,000-ton MT BADR tanker left the Bulgarian territorial waters on December 27, under a Panamanian flag, under a new name -BDIN and with a Ukrainian command. At the beginning of the year, it attempted to cross the Bosporus, but was sent back by the Turkish authorities and is currently anchored in international waters across from the Burgas Bay on the southern Bulgarian Black Sea coast.

All this happened with the active assistance of the Bulgarian authorities, despite Libya’s protests before international institutions and the allegations of piracy, which emerged as early as December 22 and were reported by the specialized press.

On December 24, the Libyan port authority issued an order to detain Bulgarian ships and ships with Bulgarian owners in Libyan ports. The pro-government Bulgarian mainstream media only spoke of this order just a few days ago, after it became clear that the scandal could not be hushed.

Meanwhile, the Burgas Regional Court and the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC) ruled illegal both the sale of the ship by private law enforcement agent (PLEA) Totko Kolev to Bulgargeomin DZZD and the arrest of the tanker by Maritime Administration.

Prosecution Wakes Up

Only on Friday, January 11, the Burgas Regional Prosecutor’s Office announced that Totko Kolev had been charged for failing to fulfill his official duties and that he has exceeded his rights in order to acquire property for another person through an illegal change of the ownership on a tanker.

Separately, the Prosecutor’s Office remembered again only on Friday that PLEA Totko Kolev had been charged in another case ten years ago when he had listed a property of the Municipality of Nessebar as private. The case will be heard on January 14, 2019, by the Burgas Regional Court.

However, there is still no response from the Prosecutor’s Office to the statement that the maritime mortgage presented by Bulgargeomin DZZD as a ground for the change of ownership is forged, as reported by the Greek notary Ioanna Andreadaki. She confirmed in a phone conversation with Bivol that she had not registered such a mortgage and had filed a complaint with the Greek Prosecution Office for the forgery of her signature and seal and the Prosecutor’s Office had launched an investigation. The Greek citizen Georgios Lappas, who had been the intermediary of Bulgargeomin DZZD, is suspected of making the counterfeit. Documents from the Greek Prosecutor’s Office were published on January 10 by the site Maritime.bg.

In addition, the use of a forged document is also a crime under Bulgarian law, as well as the concealment of the fact that such a document had been used. That is what Transport Minister Rossen Zhelyazkov did a few days ago on air, during an interview with the public TV channel BNT (Bulgarian National Television), by fully supporting the account of Bulgargeomin DZZD that the mortgage is legal and valid.

Interior Minister Mladen Marinov will now have to explain what his employee Alexander Longochev had been doing on the tanker among the thugs. Until now, the Ministry of Interior has only given information that it does not see any problems or violations and everything with the capture of the tanker BADR has happened according to the rules.null

Panama has begun a flag withdrawal procedure

On top of all that, BADR/BDIN may end up without registration in the coming days as Panama has begun a procedure to cancel the registration of the ship, Bivol learned from well-informed sources. This has happened after the Libyan protest and irregularities found in the ship’s certificate.

Another reason for the withdrawal of the flag can be the fact that the new owner, Bulgargeomin DZZD, has hired and has sent onboard of the tanker thugs from the private security company Bashev Team & Security without receiving explicit permission from the Panamanian Maritime Administration, which has strict rules and a list of approved companies for such security activities.

If the BADR/BDIN remains unregistered, it becomes a pariah ship that cannot enter any port. As the ship will be listed as hijacked, under the international law of the sea, every warship has the right to capture it in international waters.

***

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