Authorities in Sofia are investigating the reasons behind a visit made to Bulgaria by the right-wing terrorist who carried out an attack on two Mosques in New Zealand that killed fifty worshipers and injured fifty more.
The alleged assailant, Brenton Tarrant, a 28-year-old Australian who inflicted carnage on two mosques in the city of Christchurch during Friday prayers, visited Bulgaria between the 9th and 15th of November 2018, according to Bulgarian Attorney General Sotir Tsatsarov.
An investigation was launched to determine whether Tarrant’s claims to have been in the country to visit historical sites was true “or if he had other objectives,” added the prosecutor during a press conference.
Interior Minister Mladen Marinov added that the investigation aimed to clarify “the reasons” for his stay and possible “contacts with other people”.
Investigators say he arrived in Sofia from Dubai on November 9 and hired a car the following day to visit historical sites in 10 locations.
Tarrant left Bulgaria on November 15 on a flight to Bucharest, where he rented a car to go to Hungary, he said. This was the second trip the Australian had made to the region. In December 2016 he travelled by bus through Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
A senior Turkish official also said Tarrant had made several trips to Turkey.
Prior to launching the deadly attack Tarrant published documents full of references to Balkan history, in particular the wars against the Ottoman empire. The names of Serb nationalists were scrawled on the weapons he used to fire on worshippers.
Responding news of Tarrant’s visits to the Balkans, the Bosnian Islamic Community said in a statement that it was “particularly disturbing” that “the assassin had started his bloody rampage to the sound of a glorification of war crimes in Bosnia”.
This is a reference to the far-right “Chetnik” song praising former Serb leader Radovan Karadzic that was playing in Tarrant’s car before he began the massacre. Karadzic is due to hear the final verdict on his appeal against a conviction for genocide, war crimes and other atrocities, including planning the Srebrenica massacre of July 1995.