Bulgaria: Members of the Prosecutor's Collegium suggest the Removal of Ivan Geshev

Politics | May 12, 2023, Friday // 14:43|  views

Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev

Six of the members of the prosecutor's collegium of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) propose the early release of the chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev due to a serious breach of official duties. This is stated in a message of the collegium uploaded on the website of the council.

The proposal comes a day after GERB's candidate for prime minister, Mariya Gabriel, announced that if she takes office, she will ask the justice minister in her cabinet to request Geshev's release. The same day DPS supported her intention.

The proposal is motivated in detail and signed by six members - Georgi Kuzmanov, Ivan Stoev, Kalina Chapkanova, Gergana Mutafova, Ognyan Damyanov and Svetlana Boshnakova. This is the third request in a row for the early removal of the chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev, after in 2021 and 2022 it was requested consecutively by two acting ministers of justice - Yanaki Stoilov and Nadezhda Yordanova. However, for the first time, this is being requested by members of the prosecutor's collegium of the SJC.

What is the procedure?

This composition of the council, which has already exceeded its five-year term by almost a year due to the lack of a government and political consensus, was elected in 2017, and the parliamentary quota, which consists of 11 members - filled with the votes of GERB, BSP, DPS and "United Patriots" and with candidates nominated by these parties. Those elected by parliament, along with members of the prosecutor's collegium, which has until now followed the will of its chief, formed a solid majority of 17 plus votes in support of the chief prosecutor.

A majority of 17 votes in favor of the 25-member judicial council is required for the prosecutor general to be dismissed. The procedure mirrors that of the appointment of the chief prosecutor and is conducted before the Supreme Judicial Council. At the moment, the composition of the council is three people short - Boryana Dimitrova and Krasimir Shekerdzhdiev from the judicial collegium resigned and their seats are still unfilled, and Plamena Tsvetanova from the prosecutor's collegium became the deputy chief prosecutor. Moreover, the mandate of the SJC expired last year, although the Constitutional Court allowed it to continue working until the election of new members. The professional quota has already been selected, but a rule of thumb and a 2/3 majority is needed to broadcast the parliamentary quota in the personnel body.

Until now, various votes in the SJC, including the removal of Geshev first in 2021, and then in 2022 at two different requests of two ministers of justice - Yanaki Stoilov and Nadezhda Yordanova, showed the balance of power in the SJC and the support of the majority for the Prosecutor General, which at that time could hardly be shaken. Geshev was appointed to the post in 2019 with exactly 17 votes in favor.

Discussions on the removal of the chief prosecutor have been going on sporadically since July 2021, when Prof. Yanaki Stoilov submitted a proposal to start a procedure. However, then the SJC refused to rule on the merits at all. Stoilov disputed the decision and the case reached the Constitutional Court, which obliged the council to discuss the grounds stated by the minister. Exactly one year ago, in May, after extensive discussion of procedures and legislative options, the SJC also rejected the request of Nadezhda Yordanova for the early removal of Geshev.

In order to start a new such procedure, it must be initiated by at least three members of the prosecutor's collegium in the SJC, who make a motivated request to the body's plenary session. The Minister of Justice also has the power to request the opening of such a procedure, who can also bring it to the plenary session of the SJC.

If the motion for removal receives the necessary majority, the Supreme Judicial Council sends its decision and the result of the vote to the head of state in the form of a motion for removal of the Prosecutor General. If the procedure reaches the presidency, the head of state has the right to refuse to sign the resignation of the chief prosecutor. In this case, the procedure is returned to the SJC for re-voting. The President has the right of refusal only once. If he decides to sign the resignation of the chief prosecutor, the head of state issues a decree on the dismissal, which is published in the State Gazette.

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Tags: collegium, Prosecutor, SJC, Geshev


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