Powerful Bulgarian bishop found drowned

2013-07-09 21:59

(AFP)

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Sofia - One of Bulgaria's most powerful and controversial Orthodox Church bishops was found dead on Tuesday on a Black Sea beach, authorities said, dismissing early media reports that there might have been foul play.

The 59-year-old Metropolitan Kiril, a man who had spied for the communists and had a taste for luxury cars, was believed to have died from drowning, Varna regional prosecutor Tsvetanka Getsova told BNR radio.

She said an autopsy of the body showed no other trauma.

"For the time being there is no data whatsoever that it [his death] was violent," the prosecution added in a separate statement.

"The information in the mass media of a violent death is not confirmed in any way at this stage by the Varna police," the Orthodox Church also said.

Kiril's body - wearing a scuba mask and snorkel - was recovered from the sea near a church residence in his diocese city of Varna on Tuesday morning after a man spotted it and alerted police, the prosecution said.

It has now opened a probe and has started to question witnesses to determine the cause and circumstances of Kiril's death.

The bishop was a good swimmer and Getsova said the autopsy found he was perfectly healthy. He suffered neither a heart attack nor a stroke, she told BNR radio.

The Orthodox Church had announced the death in a short notice on its website: "This morning the body of Metropolitan Kiril was found in a seafront area near Varna. The information was confirmed by the local police."

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