Refugee shot by Bulgarian police while trying to cross the border from Turkey
A Syrian refugee in October was shot with live rounds by Bulgarian police while he was trying to cross the border from Turkey, several international rights groups claimed, while the government said the allegations were not true.
Dutch-based Lighthouse Reports, UK-based Sky News, The Times, French Le Monde newspaper, German public broadcaster ARD all shared a video of the moment when 19-year-old Abdullah El Rustum was shot.
In a video taken on October 3 and later released on social media, El Rustum is seen being shot and falling to the ground in blood after being wounded in his left chest and hand, while people around him embrace the young man and try to stop the bleeding with a piece of cloth.
#Bulgaria Today with @LHreports & partners, we release the first visual evidence of an asylum seeker being hit with live ammunition on the #EU border. His name is Abdullah El Rüstüm and I have met him last October in #Istanbul.— Sara Creta (@saracreta) December 5, 2022
A THREAD ???? pic.twitter.com/NewG1pftoC
El Rustum later told Sky News of UK that Bulgarian police caught him trying to enter the country with a group, where they aimed direct fire to push him back to Turkey.
"A green vehicle showed up with two Bulgarian officers in it. It came towards us and [they] started shooting in the air. They shot twice in the air and after that, they started shooting right in front of us on the ground," he said.
"We didn't get scared still and continued to argue this is not acceptable. 'Why did you do this?' After that, they hit me by shooting me directly,"
He added: "The way that he shot at me was a direct way and he intended to kill me."
He also said that the Bulgarian police confiscated everybody’s phones and money.
However, Bulgarian interior ministry denied allegations and said an investigation was carried out and found "no shots were fired from our side".
The ministry provided photos which show damage they say was caused by the stones thrown by the refugees.
According to the statement by the ministry, a border policeman of the Sredets Border Police Station was also injured by a stone.