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Bulgaria Extraditing Murder Suspect

December 1, 2000

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) _ Bulgaria has agreed to release a criminal suspect to a Western country, extraditing a man to face murder charges in the death of a former roommate in Buffalo.

Vladimir Sokolov returned to his homeland, a former Soviet bloc state, last year after learning he was a suspect in the May 1998 slaying of Thomas Mixon, 26. Although Mixon’s body was never found, the victim’s relatives say Sokolov bragged about the killing.

``This is a first for the Bulgarian authorities in agreeing to extradite a person to a government in the free world,″ said John DeFranks, first deputy assistant Erie County district attorney

The U.S. Marshals Service tracked the 21-year-old Sokolov down in Bulgaria through a series of telephone calls from Bulgaria to Sokolov’s relatives in the Buffalo suburb of Orchard Park, investigators said.

Once it was established that Sokolov was in Varna, a city of about 295,000 in northeast Bulgaria, authorities began filing papers for the international extradition.

On Saturday, three U.S. deputy marshals flew to Bulgaria to return Sokolov to Buffalo, where he has been indicted on a charge of second-degree murder. They were scheduled to arrive late Friday.

During the Cold War, Bulgaria was considered one of the most Stalinist of the East Bloc countries. After the collapse of communism in 1989 and elections in 1991, Bulgaria went through a series of government upheavals.

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