Suspect in Bulgarian journalist killing extradited from Germany

Bulgarian journalist Viktoria Marinova presented a current affairs talk programme called "Detector" for the small TVN television channel

A man suspected of the rape and murder of Bulgarian television journalist Viktoria Marinova was extradited from Germany to Bulgaria on Wednesday, officials said.

"He was transferred (and is) on Bulgarian territory," a Bulgarian justice ministry spokeswoman told AFP.

The plane reportedly carrying the 20-year-old suspect, who has been named as Severin Krasimirov, arrived at Sofia airport shortly before 7:00 pm (1600 GMT).

Live media broadcasts showed judicial police vehicles leaving the tarmac shortly after.

The body of 30-year-old television presenter Viktoria Marinova was found near a jogging path next to the Danube in the northern town of Ruse on October 6.

Authorities said that she had died from blows to the head and suffocation and that she had also been raped. The case has shocked Bulgaria and drawn strong international condemnation.

Although many commentators have suggested a connection between the crime and Marinova's work, investigators say they have seen no evidence to support this theory.

Krasimirov was arrested in the German town of Stade, near the northern city of Hamburg, on October 9.

Krasimirov told German investigators he had had an argument with the victim and punched her in the face, but denied raping her, according to a statement issued by the German regional court that handled his extradition.

However Bulgaria's chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov told the Nova TV channel on Tuesday that the evidence pointing at Krasimirov was "more than solid".

From Sofia, Krasimirov will be transferred to police detention in Ruse, over 300 kilometres (186 miles) northeast of the capital. From there, he will be fingerprinted and will undergo DNA and psychiatric tests before being officially indicted.

Tsatsarov has said that Krasimirov will be charged for rape and intentional murder perpetrated in an extremely vicious manner. If convicted, he risks a maximum sentence of life without parole.