Bulgarian Top Cop Comes under Fire from 80 Judges

Domestic | February 17, 2012, Friday // 13:58|  views

80 Sofia-based judges have asked VSS to react to the occasional "evaluations" voiced by the Interior Minister. Photo by dariknews.bg

Over 80 Sofia-based judges have urged the Supreme Judicial Council (VSS) to come up with a proper institutional response to the occasional accusations of Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov against the judiciary.

On Friday, the magistrates sent a letter to VSS, drawing attention to the fact that the Judiciary Act defined VSS as the body in charge of catering to the independence of the judicial system.

"The passivity of the judiciary's governing body places judges, who have already fallen victims to personal attacks, into a situation where they need to check cases they have already reviewed and to announce relevant facts in public," the letter says.

"The time wasted on refuting wrongful and manipulative accusations leveled by the Interior Minister with respect to concrete cases distracts judges from the execution of their duties," the magistrates add.

The judges claim that since VSS is the supreme body in charge of the administration of the judicial system, it has the necessary resources to take adequate steps to remedy the situation.

VSS members are invited to come up with the due institutional response to "senior representatives of the executive who like to evaluate court acts and issue recommendations about yet unissued ones".

The letter of appeal is signed by around 80 judges from the Sofia Regional Court, the Sofia District Court, the Sofia City Court, the Sofia Appellate Court and the Supreme Court of Cassation.

Two days ago, 46 criminal defense lawyers from Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna and Sliven insisted that the names of Bulgarian judges said to hold daily conversations with Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov should be announced in public.

The experts reasoned that the measure would "guarantee that defendants tried in Bulgarian courts get a "fair and public hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial tribunal established by law," as stipulated in Article 6, paragraph 1 of the European Convention on Human Rights".

The lawyers' reaction was triggered by two recent media appearances of the Interior Minister, including an interview for the 24 Hours daily in which he said "I would like to thank these judges who talk to me on a daily basis and are the pioneers of change" and a statement made during a morning broadcast of private TV station TV7 that "There are many judges with whom I communicate every day and who support me".

The group of disgruntled criminal justice experts sent a letter of complaint to the Supreme Judicial Council (VSS), Parliament Chair Tsetska Tsacheva and EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding.
Tsvetanov's loaded media statements have so far earned him a libel lawsuit filed by Miroslava Todorova, Chair of the Bulgarian Judges Association (BJA) and a judge at the Sofia City Court.

Todorova resorted to legal action after the Interior Minister repeatedly accused her of being incompetent in doing her job and of patronizing the mafia.

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Tags: judiciary, Judiciary Act, Supreme Judicial Council, Supreme Court of Cassations (VKS), Sofia City Court, Sofia Regional Court, Sofia District Court, Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Miroslava Todorova, Bulgarian Judges Association, mafia


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