Launch of Bulgarian Specialized Courts Postponed for 2012

Domestic | July 26, 2011, Tuesday // 15:11|  views

Bulgaria's much-discussed specialized judicial bodies are to start functioning in 2012. File photo

Bulgarian specialized courts are to become operational on January 01, 2012, according to newly passed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code.

The postponement was initiated by MPS from center-right ruling party GERB.

On July 01, GERB asked for a delay, citing "the need to ensure the normal functioning of the specialized structures".

The specialized structures were scheduled for inauguration on August 12, 2011, but were put off for a number of reasons, including serious problems with filling the competition committees.

The postponement was first requested by Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev, who demanded more time for the training of the magistrates.

Velchev dubbed ,the magistrates pending appointment in the new judicial bodies as "smart and ambitious but totally unprepared".

The candidates for the specialized courts proved to be too few, with most of them coming from regional courts and prosecutor's offices, where minimum experience requirements are applied and organized crime cases hardly ever appear.

Velchev also advised GERB to reduce the list of offences to be tackled by the new court and prosecutor's office in order to avoid a work overload resulting in even bigger delays of high-profile cases.

The two instances of the specialized court and prosecutor's office will have a total of 134 employees, 53 of them being magistrates.

The special judicial bodies are to tackle organized crime cases such as kidnappings, money-laundering, EU fund fraud, trafficking, etc.

The decision for the establishment of the anti-mafia courts was met with disapproval on the part of civil rights' organizations and the parliamentary opposition.

Apart from that, there were speculations that the new units constitute extraordinary judicial bodies.

According to a statement of the Venice Commission, "the selection of candidates, their nomination and the required qualifications will be decisive for qualifying the court as a specialized or an extraordinary body".

At the same time, the last report of the European Commission defined the creation of the new structures as a manifestation of political will to eliminate crime.

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Tags: specialized courts, GERB, Boris Velchev, Chief Prosecutor, anti-mafia, kidnappings, organized crime, trafficking, Criminal Procedure Code, magistrates


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