Audits Loom for Bulgaria's Notorious New Court Head

Society | June 14, 2011, Tuesday // 13:26|  views

The brand new Chair of Sofia's City Court, Vladimira Yaneva, has been already involved in a conflict of interests scandal. Photo by BGNES

The Ethics Commission at Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, decided Tuesday to ask the Judicial Inspectorate to conduct an audit of judge Vladimira Yaneva.

The news came on the heels of Monday statements of Justice Minister, Margarita Popova, insisting that VSS probes information Yaneva, who was recently elected as Chair of the Sofia City Court, has committed conflict of interests.

The probe will be assigned to the Inspectorate at the VSS Thursday meeting.

VSS further inform they have sent a letter to the National Audit Office, requesting a check to find out if Yaneva has declared all of her property as required by the law.

The move was triggered by media reports the new Court Head 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.

Initially, 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, was quoted saying the decision was made because her office does not work "on call," and there were other magistrates who delay cases.

"I am convinced that if Yaneva was an acquittance of notorious, shady figures in Bulgaria, the attacks against her would not have been this strong, but if there is public interest, than a probe is a must," Tsvetanov commented for journalists Tuesday, firmly rejecting he had pressured VSS for the appointment.

At the end of May, 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 – Kapka Kostova and Galina Zaharova from VSS, Dushana Zdravkova 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 Tuesday, Zdravkova reiterated the judicial reform in the country is only "on paper," and hinted she might enter politics again.

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Tags: Dushana, Tsanova, Velichka, Galina Zaharova, Kapka Kostova, Margarita Popova, Justice Minister, VSS, Tsoni, Tsonev, Judicial Inspectorate, Ana Karaivanova, GERB, Tzanova, Supreme Judicial Council, Vladimira, Yaneva, Sofia City Court, Chair, Sofia Properties, Vladimira, Yaneva, Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Sofia City Court, Zdravkova


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