Bulgarian Pardon Decrees Don't Require Countersignatures - Justice MinisterDomestic | February 16, 2012, Thursday // 16:21| views
Justice Minister Diana Kovacheva has explained that pardon decrees are not subject to countersigning. Photo by BGNES
Commenting on the latest developments in the saga surrounding the legality of the pardons granted by Vice President Angel Marin during his second term in office, Justice Minister Diana Kovacheva has asserted that presidential decrees granting pardons do not require countersignatures.
"It is a constitutional prerogative of the President to grant pardons and these decrees do not require countersignatures but are sent for execution to the General Directorate "Execution of Penalties" at the Ministry of Justice," Kovacheva said in Parliament on Thursday, responding to questions of journalists.
Under Article 102, paragraph 3 of the Bulgarian Constitution, no countersigning is required for presidential decrees pertaining to: 1. the appointment of a caretaker government; 2. the appointment of a Prime Minister-designate; 3. dissolution of the National Assembly; 4. return of a bill to the National Assembly for further debate; 5. the organization and manner of action of the offices of the Presidency and the appointment of their staff; 6. the scheduling of an election or referendum; 7. the promulgation of law.
On Wednesday, Yane Yanev, leader of the marginal conservative Order, Law and Justice, RZS, party, drew attention to the fact that none of the four Justice Ministers in the period 2002-2012 (Anton Stankov, Georgi Petkanov, Miglena Tacheva and Margarita Popova) had countersigned the pardon decrees issued by Vice President Angel Marin.
"Under the Constitution, the President has the exclusive sovereign right to determine whether pardon should be granted. In this line of thought, it has never been necessary for a Justice Minister to countersign such decrees because Justice Ministers do not have the power to question decisions of the President or the Vice President, if the prerogative has been devolved," Kovacheva reasoned.
She added, however, that the President's prerogative to grant, restore, relieve from and withdraw Bulgarian citizenship involved a shared responsibility and therefore had to be countersigned by the Justice Minister.
On Wednesday, Yane Yanev was appointed head of an ad hoc commission tasked with inquiring the motives, facts and circumstances surrounding the granting of pardons, the cancellation of uncollectible debts to the State and the granting, restoration and withdrawal of Bulgarian citizenship during the two terms in office of President Georgi Parvanov and Vice President Angel Marin.
Kovacheva's stance regarding the countersignatures was enjoys the support of former Constitutional Court judge Todor Todorov, former Justice Minister Miglena Tacheva, Maya Manolova from the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and Lyutvi Mestan from the ethnic Turkish Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party.