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Wrap-up: Two Police Chases and Crashes with Vehicles Carrying Illegal Migrants in a Day, Senior Police Officials Resign

Two police chases and crashes involving vehicles transporting illegal migrants took place in Bulgaria within a single day. The first chase took place near Sofia on Tuesday morning, in which a police officer was seriously injured and few others were hospitalized after a van carrying illegal migrants crashed into a police vehicle. The second accident happened later in the day in the coastal city of Burgas, where an SUV full of illegal migrants failed to pull over, resulting in a chase and yet another crash. The first accident prompted the resignations of two senior police officials.
Police chase near Sofia
A police officer was injured in the car accident on the Sofia Ring Road, near the suburb of Kazichene, around 7 a.m. on Tuesday, the Ministry of Interior reported. The incident took place after a chase between the police and a van carrying ten undocumented migrants, which crashed into a police van. 
Five of the injured were hospitalized at the St Anna Hospital in Sofia, including the 51-year-old police officer, whose condition is the worst. He suffered a life-threatening head injury and had to go into surgery. The van driver, who is a Bulgarian citizen, and three of the migrants were also hospitalized with lesser injuries. Another migrant was taken to the Military Medical Academy in Sofia.
Prosecutor General Spokesperson Siika Mileva told the press that the case will be investigated by the National Investigative Service and the Sofia prosecution office.
Later on Monday, Interior Ministry Secretary General Petar Todorov and his deputy Stanimir Stanev submitted their resignations in response to the first incident.
At a briefing, Todorov pointed out that the Bulgarian legislation regarding human trafficking is extremely lax. This year and last year there have been nearly 4,000 pre-trial proceedings. There have been convictions in 2,485 of them – 158 effective and around 1,300 suspended sentences. Nearly 2,000 of the convictions were fines, Todorov said. Police officers are equipped and trained to fight migrant pressure, but the legislature must show it wants to protect them, according to the outgoing Secretary General. He urged the National Assembly to pass the necessary legislative changes.
Police chase near Burgas
A SUV carrying migrants crashed in the coastal city of Burgas on Tuesday during a police chase. The driver refused to stop when signaled by police at the entrance to the village of Debelt and sped past. The vehicle crashed in central Burgas, hitting a parked car, the regional police department said.
The police have arrested seven of the eight men who got off the vehicle. The driver has been identified as a 44-year old Syrian man with British ID, while the men he was transporting were identified as Moroccan nationals.
Similar cases
This is not the first case of this kind in Bulgaria. On August 25, 2022, two police officers were killed in Burgas (on the Black Sea) by a bus who rammed into into their police car. The bus was driven by an illegal migrant and carrying 47 other illegal migrants.
On Monday, in another case, the district court in Tran (Western Bulgaria) remanded two people in custody on charges of migrant trafficking. The two detainees attempted to smuggle 26 illegal migrants across the Bulgarian-Serbian border.
In another incident, a Bulgarian border police officer was shot and killed while inspecting a hole on the fence along the Bulgarian Turkish border in early November. His patrol buddy, a serviceman with the Armed Forces, returned fire, but the perpetrators fled. Two suspects were later arrested by the Turkish authorities, one of whom used a hunting rifle to kill the Bulgarian officer.  
In October, a total of 1,687 third-country nationals were detained (181 at the border, 310 exiting the country without registration and 1,196 in the interior of the country), which is 40.2% less compared to the previous month (2,822 people), according to Interior Ministry data on the monthly migration situation in Bulgaria.