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Last Updated:  Saturday, 8 March, 2003, 10:36 GMT
Bulgarian tycoon gunned down
Iliya Pavlov
Pavlov was said to be the eighth richest man in Eastern Europe
A prominent Bulgarian billionaire has been shot dead in the capital Sofia, a day after he testified in the murder trial of a former Prime Minister, Andrei Lukanov.

Iliya Pavlov, the president of Bulgaria's biggest industrial holding, MG Corporation, was shot on Friday afternoon outside his office and died shortly afterwards in hospital.

"Iliya Pavlov was killed by a single bullet that hit close to his heart," Bulgarian Interior Minister Georgi Petkanov said, adding that his several bodyguards were unhurt.

Mr Pavlov, 43, was thought to be the richest man in Bulgaria, worth about $1.5bn (933m). His company employs about 10,000 people.

Wrestler turned businessman

On Thursday, Mr Pavlov gave evidence in the trial of three Bulgarians and two Ukrainians accused of involvement in the assassination of Mr Lukanov, Bulgaria's first post-Communist prime minister.

Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Andrei Lukanov
Lukanov was assassinated in 1996

Mr Pavlov, a former wrestler turned businessman after the fall of communism, told the court he knew Mr Lukanov through their business activity.

The tycoon was ranked the eighth richest man in Eastern Europe by the Polish magazine Vprost last year.

Mr Pavlov survived an attempt on his life in 2001, when a bomb exploded on the road to his house.

Mr Lukanov, who masterminded the downfall of Bulgaria's long-serving communist leader Todor Zhivkov in 1989, was found shot in front of his Sofia home in October 1996.

At the time, Bulgarian media said Mr Lukanov's death was a contract killing related to his business activities.

Country profile: Bulgaria
07 Mar 03 |  Country profiles

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