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RAPE CASE ON HOLD TILL SUSPECT TALKS

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An unusual rape case involving a Bulgarian heart surgeon continues to get more and more bizarre.

For hours Thursday, Bojidar Bakalov repeatedly avoided answering questions posed by 3rd District Judge Michael Murphy. Finally, the judge sent him back to jail and put the case on hold, saying Bakalov will stay there until he agrees to answer his questions.Murphy set a hearing date for next week and said he'll ask the questions again.

"We may do that for the rest of his natural life. I will begin in weekly increments."

Bakalov's stubbornness is almost legendary among attorneys and judges. He has alienated a half-dozen attorneys, and Murphy is the third judge to handle his case. Last month, Judge Richard Moffat ordered Bakalov to be gagged because of his repeated outbursts and interruptions.

Bakalov, a thoracic surgeon who came to University Hospital in 1990, was convicted of raping a Salt Lake woman in 1991. The Utah Supreme Court, however, overturned his conviction because he was not allowed to represent himself during his trial.

Once the new trial was ordered, however, Bakalov said he now wants an attorney. But he still waffles back and forth about whether he wants an attorney to represent him or have stand-by counsel appointed to help him while he represents himself.

Bakalov has repeatedly said he wants an out-of-state attorney who is not part of Utah's "legal mafia." Joseph Fratto, Bakalov's current attorney, said Bakalov has his own ideas of how to defend himself.

"It's not acceptable to Dr. Bakalov for an attorney to have an opinion as far as strategy that isn't his," Fratto said.

The judge began asking Bakalov questions to make a legal determination that Bakalov is knowingly giving up his right to be represented by an attorney. But Bakalov dodged one question in particular: "Are you aware that if convicted, you could serve a sentence of not less than 5 years in prison and what could be for the rest of your life?"

The judge repeated the question over and over, but Bakalov would only answer that he was "in the hands of legal crooks" and needed an attorney to explain. He also complained in broken English about his Bulgarian interpreter and suggested a Spanish interpreter instead.

"He doesn't want to answer the questions, your honor, he wants to give a speech," said prosecutor James Cope.

Murphy apologized to the rape victim, who has attended all of Bakalov's hearings, and said he is doing all he can. Murphy had hoped to address a series of motions filed by Bakalov, including motions to have the prosecutor jailed and a motion to have his former attorneys, the prosecutor and the victim take polygraph examinations.