Bulgaria's Supreme Council Upholds Judge's Dismissal

Domestic | July 16, 2012, Monday // 17:16|  views

Bulgaria's current Supreme Judicial Council has stirred a number of controversies and scandals during their term in office. File photo

The Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, upheld Monday its decision to dismiss Miroslava Todorova, Chair of the Bulgarian Judges Association, BJA, and Judge at the Sofia City Court.

Without a hearing, Todorova was dismissed last Thursday by VSS on disciplinary grounds over the unreasonable delay of proceedings. The move came just days ahead of the release of the European Commission's Monitoring Report on Bulgaria's Justice System and Internal Affairs under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.

The decision to dismiss her provoked an avalanche of political statements, and media comments, while Bulgarian judges staged Friday an unprecedented protest rally against the dismissal, prompting Justice Minister, Diana Kovacheva, to call the Monday emergency meeting of VSS.

The meeting had just one item on the agenda – discussing the disciplinary practice when sanctioning magistrates, who are delaying Court cases.

It emerged from it that the decision cannot be reversed, but can be appealed by Todorova before a 3-member panel and a 5-member panel of the Supreme Administrative Council, which can uphold it or reject it.

Kovacheva started the open-doors meeting with the appeal to not make public information from the disciplinary proceedings against the judge, but rather have a discussion on general issues in the justice system such as heavy workload and delayed cases.

This somehow prompted two VSS members with their own personal share of scandals, Plamen Stoilov and Ivan Kolev to offer data about Todorova's delayed cases and her workload.

Stoilov, who is one of those who proposed that the judge be fired, was in the middle of the scandal with lobbyist Krasio the Black, while Kolev was the one to make it public by revealing that the said Krasio promised senior posts to magistrates in exchange of cash.

On Friday, Stoilov responded to the judiciary protest by presenting them with a brand new anonymous report about a case Todorova has delayed, refusing to name the source of information. He included the latter in the Monday meeting as well, accusing the judge of tarnishing the image of the judicial system in the eyes of the public.

Kolev backed earlier statements of Deputy Prime Minister and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov that the scandal with the dismissal was politically motivated. He stated Todorova's violations were "unprecedented on a global scale," stressing she was unable to organize her work.

The VSS member gave an example with judges from the Supreme Court of Cassations having 300 cases a year, while she only had 260.

Despite Todorova's written arguments, presented a while ago to VSS, and in a letter sent to Kovacheva on Sunday, explaining that the delayed cases in question were from 1996, 1997, and 1998, and were held prior to that in pre-trial stage for 7 years, no one discussed it.

As the Bulgarian Dnevnik daily reminds, delays in the pre-trail stage, which are infamous in Bulgaria, have never been debated by VSS and not a single prosecutor or investigator has ever been sanctioned.

The Chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court of Cassations, Lazar Gruev, stated that the entire judicial system and Bulgaria suffered a heavy blow by the decision to dismiss Todorova.

Chief Prosecutor, Boris Velchev, pointed out that the emergency meeting had been futile and appealed to VSS to find solutions for the heavy workload of judges to leave them as a legacy for the new Council to be elected in September.

Speaking in an interview for the Bulgarian National Television, BNT, Monday, Tsvetanov insisted once again that Todorova has committed blatant violations.

Judge Miroslava Todorova, gained reputation as the strongest critic of the Supreme Judicial Council and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

Tsvetanov continues to firmly reject claims that he is behind Todorova's ousting and explained he learned of her existence and began criticizing her only after people victimized by crime turned to him to complain about her.

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Tags: Rosen Plevneliev, Justice Minister, Diana Kovacheva, Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, judge, Miroslava Todorova, dismissed, Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, Interior Minister, Bulgarian Judges Association, libel, Sofia City Court, provocation, European Commission, monitoring report, Justice System and Internal Affairs, cooperation and verification mechanism, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, Deputy Prime Minister, Lazar Gruev, Chairman of the Supreme Administrative Court of Cassations, Boris Velchev, Chief Prosecutor, Krasio the Black, Ivan Kolev, Plamen Stoilov, president, protest, rally


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