Bulgarian Constitutional Judge 'Mistrusts' Own Court

Society | October 9, 2013, Wednesday // 14:24|  views

Bulgarian Constitutional Judge, Rumen Nenkov, photo BGNES

The Bulgarian supreme judge, reporting on the notorious "Peevski case," voiced strong doubt in the independence of his own Constitutional Court.

Speaking for bTV, judge Rumen Nenkov stated that the Constitutional magistrates' panel has failed to convince him so far of their independence.

Such statements are very rare among Bulgarian judiciary and Nenkov quickly made headlines in Bulgaria on Wednesday.

The country's highest Court, assigned with the task to safeguard the Constitution, has been shaken recently by huge scandals with the failed appointments of two judges to join its panel.

Nenkov further said he felt alarmed by the fact the decisions of his Court seemed very foreseeable not because of the rule of law and the Constitution, but over the political bias of the judges.

"I also knew in advance that this would be the distribution of votes (6:5:1) and I am NOT proud of it," he added.

One day earlier, the Constitutional Court ruled that lawmaker and shady media tycoon Delyan Peevski could be reinstated as MP because he was not in a state of incompatibility after he was elected Head of the National Security Agency, DANS, back in June.

Half of the judges (6) decided that there was incompatibility, but Peevski has eliminated it by resigning as lawmaker after the election.

Rumen Nenkov was part of the group of five judges, who said Peevski has lost his MP rights by becoming DANS chief.

Nenkov, however, has been subjected to a number of attacks even before the sitting, mainly because he is the father of Alexander Nenkov, an MP from the formerly-ruling and now opposition Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria, GERB, party, which actually referred Peevski's case to the Constitutional Court.

"I will restrain from stating that the Court is discredited, but I will say that its image is now under question. I can only suspect political pressure and where it is coming from," the judge said, stressing he was not meeting with politicians other than his son.

Nenkov explained that supreme judges having different opinions about one same case was not something unusual in legal practice.

"It is important, however, to have people with integrity, impeccable morals and top professional qualities in our Court," said he.

Nenkov firmly rejected accusations he has been in conflict of interests for being a reporting judge all while his son is a GERB lawmaker, underscoring the Chairman of the Court is the one assigning the reporters.

"I am not in conflict of interest. I have 30 years of experience in the judiciary. I would not benefit in any way by the outcome of this case. I have only 5 years until retirement," he pointed out.

The judge further explained that suggestions he was against Peevski because his son is a senior GERB member did not hold water as two of his colleagues, one nominated by the same party and the other by the President, have supported Peevski's return to Parliament.

The appointment of Peevski Chair of the State Agency for National Security (DANS) on June 14 triggered mass protests in Bulgaria, ongoing for nearly four months now.

It was canceled by Parliament on June 19, but the move failed to appease protesters, who have demanded the government's resignation for over 117 consecutive days in Sofia, with some of the rallies attracting dozens of thousands of anti-graft protesters.

The cancelled appointment brought up the question of whether Peevski could return to his previous post of MP from liberal, predominantly ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms.

Center-right party GERB initiated a lawsuit, insisting that Peevski could not retain the capacity of MP because he had been sworn in as DANS Chair.

However, DPS argued that Peevski had not assumed office and had not had the opportunity to start fulfilling his duties and was therefore still considered an MP of the party.

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Tags: constitutional judge, Rumen Nenkov, Alexander Nenkov, reporting judge, Constitutional Court, conflict of interests, Delyan Peevski, State Agency for National Security, DANS, Bulgarian Socialist Party, ethnic Turkish party Movement for Rights and Freedoms, DPS, MP, Constitutional Court, GERB, protests


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