Supreme Judicial Council Elects Conclusively Ivan Geshev as Prosecutor General

November 14 (BTA) - The 25-member Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Plenum Thursday voted, 20-4, to elect conclusively Ivan Geshev as Bulgaria's new Prosecutor General.

This was the second vote that the Council took on Geshev's nomination, following President Rumen Radev's refusal to decree his appointment two weeks after the candidate was elected by a vote of 20 to 4 on October 24.

Thursday's SJC decision will be sent to the President, who is now bound to sign the appointment decree.

To be elected, Geshev needed a two-thirds majority or 17 votes in favour.

The Council members resolved to revote Geshev's nomination without initiating a new procedure. After that, part of them stated why they had voted in favour and against the candidate.

The four votes against came from Supreme Court of Cassation President Lozan Panov and judges Olga Kerelska, Atanaska Disheva and Tsvetinka Pashkunova. Judge Krassimir Shekerdjiev, who voted against on October 24, was absent from Thursday's SJC meeting.

The second vote took place after a several hours' long debate on the reasons why the head of State vetoed the appointment, the voting procedure, and whether a new election procedure should be launched or not.

The election was held amidst unprecedented security arrangements around the SJC building, where proponents and opponents of Geshev's elections rallied.

After the voting, Geshev told a news conference that the election procedure was "unprecedented in Bulgaria and EU-wide". He dismissed as "unprincipled" allegations, if any, that the procedure was untransparent.

Commenting on Disheva's claim that he had threatened her, Geshev said that Panov, Kerelska and Disheva "spoke politically almost without legal arguments". That is why he told Disheva that a brilliant political career "probably" lies ahead of her. Earlier, reasoning her vote against Geshev, Disheva said she had asked the candidate during a break whether he was threatening her, considering that she has three more years as SJC member and is entitled to resume her judgeship after that, but he answered in the negative.

Justice Minister Danail Kirilov told the news conference that he expects the President to perform his functions under the Constitution in good faith and issue the respective decree within three and seven days.

Geshev, 49, who is a sitting Deputy Prosecutor General, was the only candidate for the post. He is to take office upon the expiry of the term of office of his predecessor Sotir Tsatsarov on January 10, 2020.

For the first time, the election of a Bulgarian prosecutor general was held against the background of protests and tight security.

Geshev's highly controversial bid has been supported by Tsatsarov, the rest of the prosecutors and Interior Ministry personnel. They argue that he is the first member of the prosecutors community to get the top job, for which he is fully qualified. Geshev's opponents, which include a reform-minded minority in the SJC and in the judges community, lawyers and NGOs, insist that he is professionally and morally unfit for office because of his law training at the Interior Ministry Academy, a career with the police and the investigative service, and gross disregard for fundamental principles of democracy like the separation of powers. Critics also argue that Geshev's election is flawed because he is the only candidate, but the proponents recall that two of the four previous holders of the post since the inception of the present system (Ivan Tatarchev and Boris Velchev) were also elected without competition. The candidate's backers insist that his bid is opposed by "oligarchs" who fear his drive to enforce the law and that the magistrates who oppose him are politically motivated or pressured to do so. Detractors, for their part, suspect that his election is pushed through by corrupt politicians and oligarchs seeking to secure immunity from future prosecution. Opponents do not limit their criticism to Geshev's person but demand legislative revisions to curb the prosecutor general's uncontrolled powers, make him subject to criminal prosecution, and broaden the range of entities that can nominate a candidate beyond the SJC and the Minister of Justice.

Source: Sofia