(DF) Justice Minister Proposes Procedure for Holding Prosecutor General Liable for Violations

July 29 (BTA) – At an extraordinary meeting on Thursday, caretaker Bulgarian Justice Minister Yanaki Stoilov presented a proposal for a procedure for holding the prosecutor general and other senior prosecutors liable for violations. The proposal comes less than a week after Stoilov asked the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) to dismiss Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev over a number of alleged violations of the law and infringements of the Code of Ethics of the Judiciary. The SJC rejected the proposal as inadmissible. This gave Geshev’s critics further arguments to claim that he is practically unaccountable to anybody and cannot be removed from office. According to the Justice Minister’s proposal, a prosecutor who has conducted an investigation against the prosecutor general would be eligible for appointment as a judge after the end of the procedure, the prosecutorial decisions on an investigation against the prosecutor general would not be subject to appellate review, and disciplinary proceedings cannot be initiated against the investigating prosecutor while an investigation against the prosecutor general is in progress. This apparently aims to address the hierarchical dependence of all prosecutors on the prosecutor general. A prosecutor is already working on an alert against Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev submitted earlier this week by caretaker Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov – on the same grounds as in Stoilov’s alert to the SJC. The head of the specialized prosecution service, Valentina Madzharova, told reporters Thursday that the case has been randomly allocated to a prosecutor but he would not be named in view of the strong public interest in the matter. The prosecutor has a month to study the materials and may decide to request an additional check, which may take up to three months. Furthermore, Stoilov proposes that the prosecutor general be obliged to answer questions received in the course of a public consultation on his or her report on the performance of the prosecution service. The Judicial Reform Council also discussed the introduction of judicial review of a prosecutorial warrant refusing to initiate criminal proceedings. The participants in the meeting also considered the establishment of a detailed framework for the resumption of criminal proceedings that have been terminated by warrants that were not subjected to judicial review. The Council further considered specific measures and timeframes for legislative amendments intended to make justice accessible, effective and predictable, countercorruption, and strengthening commercial circulation. LN/LG //