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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Atrocity Trial Witness Found Dead in Bulgaria

SOFIA -- A key witness in a Bulgarian multiple murder trial of former guards at a "gulag"-style labor camp has been found dead, police said Friday.


A spokesman said the body of former actress Nadia Dunkin -- an ex-prisoner at the camp where opponents of the former communist regime were sent from 1959 to 1962 -- had been found in her apartment in central Sofia.


Dunkin was one of the main witnesses in the trial of three Bulgarians charged with murdering 14 political prisoners at the camp, near Lovetch in central Bulgaria.


The trial opened last year after lengthy investigations launched following the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, and is due to resume soon with testimony from witnesses.


The opposition daily Democratzia said Friday that Dunkin's neighbors had heard groans and cries Tuesday evening.


They called police, who kicked down the door and found Dunkin, 77, on her stomach dressed only in her underwear. Her face was smashed in and the whole room was covered in blood, the newspaper said.


Anti-communist chief prosecutor Ivan Tatarchev has said 147 out of 1,501 prisoners were tortured to death at the camp.


He has demanded the death penalty for the three accused -- Razgeva, camp chief Petar Gogov and his deputy Nicolai Gazdov.


Earlier this year, Dunkin, sent to the Lovetch camp in 1961, had described how female warder Yuliana Razhgeva, charged with the murder of two prisoners, had put a snake in her mouth while she was unconscious.


Dunkin, who attended sessions of the trial and often interrupted them with cries of outrage, said she was beaten every day at the camp, where she said she was sent on the sole grounds of opposing communism.