Bulgarian Parliament Appoints 2nd Ad Hoc Committee on Nationalist Leader’s Immunity

Domestic | December 10, 2015, Thursday // 13:15|  views

Volen Siderov, leader of nationalist Ataka party. Photo by EPA/BGNES

Bulgarian Parliament will appoint a second ad hoc committee to consider lifting the immunity of nationalist Ataka partys leader, Volen Siderov, from criminal prosecution.

On Monday, November 30, Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov submitted to Parliament two new requests for immunity lifting over Siderov’s violation of public order in two separate cases in 2011 and 2013.

In 2011, Siderov and members of his nationalist Ataka party disrupted commemorative celebrations in the Bulgarian town of Batak, by intruding on stage during a concert, hitting some of the performers (many of them children) and bringing the event to an end.

In the 2013 case, Siderov and Ataka members surrounded a reporter of SKAT TV station (owned then by Valeri Simeonov, who heads the rival nationalist NFSB party which backs Bulgaria's minority government) and harassed him, later also punching and insulting a police officer.

It is expected that the inquiry committee will have the same composition as the first such committee created to discuss Siderov’s immunity.

On November 3, lawmakers in that first committee agreed to lift the immunity of the leader of Ataka, Volen Siderov and party member Desislav Chukolov over charges of hooliganism in two cases in October.

On November 5, the Parliament lifted the immunity of Ataka MPs Volen Siderov and Dessislav Chukolov over three acts of hooliganism near the area of the National Academy for Theatre and Film Arts (NATFIZ).

Two weeks later, on November 17, Sofia investigative officials ordered the 72-hours detention of the two MPs. The following day, however, The Sofia City Court (SCC) ruled nationalist leader Volen Siderov and ATAKA party member Desislav Chukolov should be released on bail, suggesting that their arrest was illegal as no evidence suggested they would try to hide out or again commit an offence.

Under Bulgarian law, immunity requests have to be issued each time a MP is to face criminal prosecution, with each immunity waiver referring to a specific offense the MP commtted.

Deputy Parliament Speaker Dimitar Glavchev is expected to head the new inquiry committee, with two representatives of each parliamentary group to become its members. 

According to the rules of the Parliament, if in five days after the Chief Prosecutor’s request (which expired on December 5), the MP does not voluntarily give up their defence, the National Assembly is to have a say.

The general practice in such cases is to create an ad hoc committee which to analyse the request of the Chief Prosecutor and to give a positive or negative decision on the lifting of MP’s immunity.

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Tags: Volen Siderov, immunity, Desislav Chukolov, Siderov, Sotir Tsatsarov, Sofia City Court, Valeri Simeonov, Ataka, NFSB


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