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(DF) MPs Overturn Presidential Veto on Legislation Establishing Procedure for Investigation of Prosecutor General

February 17 (BTA) – Parliament Wednesday voted 125 in favour, 77 against (mostly MPs from the Bulgarian Socialist Party and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms), with three abstentions, to overturn a presidential veto on the Act to Supplement the Criminal Procedure Code, which establishes a procedure for investigation of the Prosecutor General. President Rumen Radev argued that the law, which passed in January, does not provide a fair and certain solution to the lack of an effective mechanism for the investigation of a sitting prosecutor general or deputy prosecutor general. “The introduction of a new office of a ‘prosecutor investigating the prosecutor general or a deputy prosecutor general’ breaches a number of constitutional principles, including the independence of the court, the independence of prosecutors within the judiciary, and the equality of citizens before the law,” the reasoning reads. The President pointed out further that the lack of effective investigation against a sitting prosecutor general or deputy prosecutor general, as well as against senior public office holders in general, poses a major challenge to the rule of law in Bulgaria. The Socialist MPs once again called the revisions to the Criminal Procedure Code “a legislative Frankenstein”, stressing that the power-holders ignored the negative opinions of the competent Bulgarian and European bodies. GERB and the United Patriots, which make up the ruling coalition, described the President’s reasoning as untenable and inconsistent. “It is not true that there was no public debate: opinions were issued by the Supreme Bar Council, the Supreme Judicial Council, the prosecuting magistracy and representatives of the legal community,” said Hristian Mitev (United Patriots). Speaking in favour of the revisions, GERB Deputy Floor Leader Krassimir Tsipov said that acting within the bounds of the Constitution, and given that the legislature is unlikely to reach a consensus, this is the only way to ensure the normal functioning of the law. *** The MPs also voted 122 in favour, 57 against, with one abstention, to overturn the presidential veto on certain revisions to the Spatial Development Act. The President reasoned that the amendments could impede the enforcement of the law. He challenged a provision which requires the respective minister’s approval in writing for an alteration of the assigned purpose of a building used in education, science, health care or culture. He also objected to revisions concerning the permits for changes in the detailed site development plans. RY/DD