site.btaConstitutional Court to Consider Prosecutor General's Application against Closure of Specialized Jurisdictions
The Constitutional Court has admitted for consideration on its merit an application by Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev against the closure of special jurisdictions. The Court said Tuesday that the decision was adopted anonymously on 10 votes.
The specialized jurisdictions in Bulgaria are to be closed down by an Act to Amend and Supplement the Judicial System Act, passed on April 14, 2022. On May 4, the Prosecutor General asked the Constitutional Court to declare unconstitutional the revisions, arguing that they fail to ensure a protection of the constitutional rights of citizens and legal persons but, worse yet, have a negative impact on criminal procedure because they imply serious problems and may even paralyze the judiciary's handling of pending proceedings.
The first-instance Specialized Criminal Court was set up in 2011 to try organized crime offences, and its jurisdiction was later on expanded to cover corruption offences as well. The Specialized Court's decisions are subject to intermediate appellate review before the Appellate Specialized Criminal Court. This structure is paralleled by a Specialized Prosecution Office and an Appellate Specialized Prosecution Office.
Critics of the specialized jurisdictions argue that powerholders use them as "bludgeons" to eliminate their political and business opponents. Proponents insist that the specialized jurisdictions were set up acting on recommendations from the European Commission and the Council of Europe and that their closure is likely to wreck the Bulgarian judicial system, throwing the cases of serious organized crime figures and oligarchs back to square one, releasing them from custody, and giving them back their seized assets totalling BGN 3.5 billion.