Bulgaria's Judicial Council Makes New Controversial Appointment

Domestic | October 13, 2011, Thursday // 15:04|  views

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Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council (VSS) appointed Thursday Judge Nelly Batanova as Chair of the Shumen District Court.

In 2008, Batanova acquitted the two defendants in the high-profile "Borislki" murder case.

Georgi Zheliazkov, 29 and Stoyan Stoitchkov, 28, were declared not guilty of the murder of Bulgarian law student Martin Borilski, who was killed in Paris in 2000.

The acquittals handed down by the Bulgarian courts of first and second instance despite the conclusive evidence gathered by the French police drew harsh criticism from the French Ambassador to Bulgaria about the country's judiciary.

The Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS) eventually declared the two defendants guilty and handed Zhelyazkov and Stoichkov jail terms of 19 and 17 years, respectively.

Batanova was backed by a total of 16 VSS members, including Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev.

VKS Chair Lazar Gruev was absent from the session.

VSS Ethics Committee Chair Tsoni Tsonev voiced support for Batanova, saying that the "Borilski" case could not be used to determine her qualities for the post of administrative head of the Shumen District Court.

Tsonev said that he would back Batanova's bid in order to reinforce VSS' "solid and unambiguous practice".

Batanova's main rival was former judicial inspector Svetlin Stefanov, who got 7 votes in favor, including Georgi Kolev, Chair of the Supreme Administrative Court (VAS).

The third candidate was Judge Todor Todorov, who made headlines with his involvement in the "Krasyo the Black" scandal in the judiciary.

Krasimir Georgiev, aka Krasyo the Black, was allegedly an intermediary offering the "sale" of top magistrate positions about EUR 200 000.

30 acting high-ranking Bulgarian magistrates, and 14 candidates for top positions (5 of whom already appointed), and 4 Members of Parliament have been exposed to have been in contact with Krasio after the scandal broke out. The case is still under investigation.

Todorov was backed by one VSS member, Ivan Kolev.

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Tags: Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, Tsoni Tsonev, Chief Prosecutor, Boris Velchev, Martin Borilski, Borilski, Supreme Court of Cassation, Supreme Administrative Court, Georgi Kolev, acquittal

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