President Radev Refuses to Appoint Ivan Geshev as Prosecutor General
Sofia, November 7 (BTA) - In a special address on Thursday, President Rumen Radev said he would not sign a decree appointing Ivan Geshev as prosecutor general, and returned his nomination to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC).
Radev told the media that the single nomination meant that not only there was no competition - it eroded the authority and legitimacy of the future prosecutor general. He added that alternative candidates for senior state positions are a distinctive feature of the democratic State.
The President said: "The nomination of a single candidate was backed, in effect, by the executive as the Justice Minister declined to name another candidate, which led to a total lack of an alternative option."
Radev also said the future prosecutor general must enjoy the public's confidence, manifest in the opinions of civil society entities listed in the Judicial System Act: NGOs, professional organizations of magistrates, higher education establishments and research organizations. He argued: "Only such opinions are subject to publication on the SJC website. Despite this clear stipulation, numerous opinions of state bodies were posted, including some of the executive branch, such as the Interior Ministry, the State Agency for National Security and the Directorate General for Combating Organized Crime. Thus massive institutional support overwhelmed the opinion of the public organizations in contravention of the law."
Under the Constitution, the President appoints the Prosecutor General on a proposal by the SJC Plenum. The head of State cannot refuse to appoint or relieve the Prosecutor General on a repeat proposal.
After being Deputy Prosecutor general for nearly one-and-a-half years, Ivan Geshev was elected to the top job in the prosecuting magistracy by the SJC on October 24 as the only candidate. He was supported by a wide majority of 20 SJC members, with only four voting against him. Geshev is to replace Sotir Tsatsarov, whose seven-year tenure expires on January 10.
Geshev's personality, as well the procedure for his election prompted street protests spearheaded by organizations and party calling for reforms in the judiciary. There were counter-protests as well and the Association of Prosecutors in Bulgaria issued a statement blasting the protests against him, saying that they went beyond the constitutional right to protest.