Senior Bulgarian Judge Persists Unperturbed by Conflict of Interest Claims

Domestic | June 17, 2011, Friday // 17:13|  views

Judge Vladimira Yaneva has made it clear she will not step down in spite of conflict of interest claims. Photo by BGNES

The newly-elected head of the Sofia City Court, judge Vladimira Yanova, has declared that she will not resign, and will not even withdraw from a trial over which she is claimed to be involved in conflict of interest.

"I will decide when to resign, which does not mean that I will resign," Yaneva told journalists on Friday, a day after Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council (VSS) technically ruled out to spare her an all-out conflict of interest probe.

The new Sofia City Court head is alleged to have 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 Sofia municipal company "Sofiyski Imoti" (Sofia Properties).

Another aspect of Yaneva's case is that she bought two stores from Sofia Properties as a representative of her father's firm "Yana-Yane Yanev", which is technically a commercial deal – a transaction in which magistrates are prohibited from participating. The property deals in question were made in May and June 2002, two months after Yaneva was appointed a Junior Judge at the Sofia City Court.

Speaking on Friday, Yaneva made it clear she will not withdraw from a trial investigating abuses in the Sofia Properties company even though in the past she made deals with the former heads of the company whose case she is now trying in court.

"There is no conflict of interest in this trial. I don't have personal interests in the outcome of the trial," Yaneva said in her first public appearance after she was recently selected by the VSS to head the Sofia City Court.

Meanwhile, a letter that she provided to the Supreme Judicial Council explaining her history of interaction with Sofiyiski Imoti was provided to the media. In her account, Yaneva technically confirms all publications in the media about her past dealings with Sofia Properties.

She also points out that she has not scheduled a hearing on the Sofia Properties trial yet. She confirms that on December 20, 2010, she terminated the case and returned it for investigation to the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office citing procedural violations.

The judge, however, has not provided any explanations as to why she has allegedly delayed the hearing of the case, or why she would not withdraw from it.

The former CEO of Sofia Properties Toshko Dobrev, who was in charge of the company when Yaneva made a deal with it, is now a defendant on charges of abuses in the notorious municipal company.

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Tags: Vladimira Yaneva, Sofia Properties, Sofiyski Imoti, judge, judges, Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, Tsoni Tsonev, Lazar Gruev, conflict of interest


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