Businessman killed in broad daylight in Sofia

A policeman stands near a crime scene where Petar Hristov, 49, owner of one of Bulgaria's biggest dairy companies was shot and killed in Sofia, Bulgaria, January 8, 2018. REUTERS/Stoyan Nenov

SOFIA (Reuters) - The owner of one of Bulgaria’s biggest dairy companies was shot and killed in broad daylight on Monday outside the company’s office in Sofia, two sources familiar with the case said.

The killing comes only a few days after Bulgaria, the European Union’s poorest and most corrupt country, assumed the six-month, rotating presidency of the EU for the first time since it joined in 2007.

Petar Hristov, 49, was shot dead while getting in his car in Manastirski Livadi, a high-end district of the capital, Sofia, early on Monday.

Hristov, an influential businessmen in central Bulgaria with interests in construction, real estate and tourism, was taken to hospital, where he died from his wounds about 30 minutes later.

Hristov was also close to senior officials from the ruling center-right GERB party, according to Bulgarian media.

“The investigation is ongoing,” Sofia police commissioner Ivaylo Ivanov said. “The person is a 49-year-old Bulgarian citizen, a businessman, this is what I can say at the moment.”

The killing of Hristov comes amidst close scrutiny from Brussels, which has criticized Bulgaria for doing too little to fight criminal gangs and official corruption. Three weeks ago, a senior tax official was shot in his car in Sofia downtown.

According to Transparency International, Bulgaria is the EU’s most corrupt country. But a week before Hristov was shot, President Rumen Radev vetoed anti-graft legislation, saying the bill failed to offer the means to effectively investigate corruption networks.

Reporting by Angel Krasimirov, editing by Larry King