(DF) Justice Minister, Supreme Judicial Council Clash Over Deadlines for Analyses of Specialized Jurisdictions

May 20 (BTA) – Meeting here on Thursday, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Plenum discussed and adopted a structure and criteria for conducting analyses on the operation of specialized courts and prosecution offices. Caretaker Justice Minister Yanaki Stoilov (who presides over SJC Plenum meetings) initiated the analyses after the Legal Affairs Committee of the defunct 45th National Assembly passed on first reading amendments to the Judicial System Act and the Criminal Procedure Code on the closure of the Specialized Criminal Court, the Appellate Specialized Criminal Court and the respective prosecution offices. Voting by an overwhelming majority, the Plenum rejected Stoilov’s proposal to shorten the deadline for preparation of the analyses to 40 days, i.e. by the end of June. On his way into the meeting, the Justice Minister said that he regarded “the attempt to extend these time limits as an aspiration to postpone the actual results”. “The result [of the analyses] should be available even while the caretaker cabinet is in office, so that the parties and the Bulgarian citizens could find their way and assess what the SJC will present,” Stoilov added. Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev was the strongest opponent to the 40-day deadline. “If anybody wants us to serve political interests within such deadlines, this is insulting to any magistrate. It is in the interest of the prosecution service that the deadline set should make it possible to prepare a comprehensive and objective analysis,” he argued. The Justice Minister said he hoped that the Prosecutor General was not referring to him. The Plenum approved a decision adopted by the SJC Prosecutors Chamber on Wednesday that a 13-member working group be given three months to analyze the performance of the specialized prosecution offices from their establishment until 2020. Ultimately, after a five-hour-long debate, the SJC Plenum failed to reach a decision about who will analyze the performance of the specialized courts and in what timeframe. The debate will continue at the next meeting on May 26. NV/LG /МЙ/