Bulgaria's New Court Head Probed for Conflict of Interests

Society | June 12, 2011, Sunday // 14:39|  views

The brand new Chair of Sofia's City Court, Vladimira Yaneva. Photo by BGNES

Facts, published in the media about the newly elected Chair of the Sofia City Court, Vladimira Yaneva, will be checked and proven violations will be sanctioned.

The statement was made by the Head of the Ethics Committee at the Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, Tsoni Tsonev, who spoke Sunday for the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR.

The comments came on the heels of media reports Yaneva failed to declare several properties and likely committed conflict of interests by attempting to halt a legal case that could implicate her father in murky real estate deals.

Suspicions of conflict of interests stem from deals concluded with the notorious municipal company "Sofiyski Imoti" (Sofia Properties).

One of the numerous cases against the company had ended at Yaneva's desk last year, assigned to her as judge. A check in the property register, however, revealed her father had purchased two commercial facilities from the company. The deals have been concluded at the time two defendants in the case against Sofia Properties were part of the company's management at high-ranking posts.

Later, the site "Mediapool" reported that Yaneva, who is also a family friend of Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, had concluded the above said deals in person, claiming they have documentation to prove it.

Meanwhile, the Judicial Inspectorate decided to not conduct an audit of Yaneva, but rather probe the entire criminal department of the Court. Chief Judicial Inspector, Ana Karaivanova, is quoted saying the decision was made because her office does not work "on call," and there were other magistrates who delay cases.

Tsonev pointed out if VSS knew in advance about the allegations they would have done a probe and would have postponed the selection, adding the Council has no psychic abilities and could not act in any other way since no one alarmed them on time.

Yaneva, who has eight years of experience, four of them on maternity leave, won the appointment at second round against Velichka Tsanova, a judge with extensive experience, Deputy Chair and temporarily in charge of the same court.

The appointment sent shockwaves through the judicial system in Bulgaria, triggering several resignations with accusations the executive power is interfering and chocking the Courts.

Four senior judges – two from VSS, one from the Varna Regional Court (known as one of the founders of Tsvetanov's ruling GERB, and former GERB MEP), and Tsanova resigned in a bout of outrage by the appointment.

On Sunday, Tsonev denied there is a crisis at VSS over the resignations, and blamed those who quit for acting prematurely and leaving to go back to their less stressful jobs as magistrates.

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Tags: Sofia City Court, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Interior Minister, Yaneva, Vladimira, Sofia Properties, Chair, Sofia City Court, Yaneva, Vladimira, Supreme Judicial Council, Tzanova, GERB, Ana Karaivanova, Judicial Inspectorate, Tsonev, Tsoni, VSS


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