VMRO Asks Prosecutor General to Deactivate Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

VMRO Asks Prosecutor General to Deactivate Bulgarian Helsinki Committee

Sofia, September 30 (BTA) - VMRO has asked Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov to discontinue the activities of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) because of "inadmissible interference with Bulgaria's judicial system," the power-sharing nationalist party said in a press release on Monday. VMRO Deputy Chairman and MEP Angel Dzhambazki and National Leadership member and MP Alexander Sidi have alerted the Prosecutor General, requesting a termination of the BHC's registration.

The alert argues that the BHC "directly and indirectly exerts pressure on Bulgarian magistrates and engages in unconstitutional, unlawful, immoral and openly anti-Bulgarian activities."

VMRO singles out, as the Committee's most scandalous activity, the arrangement of workshops for judges, prosecutors and investigating magistrates "some of whom subsequently decide the fate of proven criminals like Palfreeman".

"A case in point is Jock Palfreeman, to whom the association provides support in the form of actions in law and in fact. By these steps, the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee Association by indirect means breaches the principle of magistrates' impartiality," Dzhambazki and Sidi reason in their request.

The party recalls that the BHC selected Judge Kalin Kalpakchiev as runner-up in its 2013 Human of the Year Award and that Palfreeman was nominated for the same award in 2015.

In 2009, Australian national Jock Palfreeman was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment in Bulgaria and ordered to pay 450,000 leva compensation for the stabbing murder of a Bulgarian student. On September 19, 2019, a panel of three Sofia Appellate Court (SAC) judges, presided by Kalpakchiev, granted a conditional early release to Palfreeman, sparking an outcry among politicians and media outlets.

On September 24, Tsatsarov asked the Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) to reopen the case of Palfreeman's early release and to suspend the enforcement of the SAC ruling, arguing, among other things, that two members of the court panel were closely linked with the BHC (Kalpakchiev and Velislava Ivanova, who was part ot the team that drew up the BHC's report on human rights in Bulgaria in 2016) and should have recused themselves. In 2015 the BHC provided financial support for the establishment of an association defending inmates' rights initiated by Palfreeman. BHC Board Chair Krassimir Kanev issued a positive assessment of that association, which was one of the things taken into consideration by the court before deciding in favour of the Australian's early release. The SCC will hold a hearing on the Prosecutor General's motion on October 23. DS/LG

Source: Sofia