site.btaLegislation Setting Up Prosecutor General-Probing Mechanism Passed Conclusively
Bulgaria's Parliament on Friday passed conclusively and without provisions amending and supplementing the Criminal Procedure Code that put in place a mechanism for the investigation of the prosecutor general. The vote was 210 in favour, with none against and no abstentions.
According to the procedure, alerts against a prosecutor general or a deputy prosecutor general will be addressed to the president of the Criminal Chamber of the Supreme Court of Cassation. A judge ranking as a supreme court judge will be selected on a random basis from a list of criminal judges to be appointed temporarily as a prosecutor at the Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office so as to meet the requirement of the Constitution that a prosecutor must conduct a criminal prosecution. Another prosecutor will be appointed to oversee that provisional prosecutor's performance. The prosecutor investigating criminal offences allegedly committed by the prosecutor general will direct the pretrial proceedings and will appear in court for the trial proceedings.
If other legitimate causes to initiate pretrial proceedings in connection with an offence allegedly committed by the prosecutor general arise within six months of any such alert, they will be considered by the prosecutor. In case the initiation of pretrial proceedings has been refused during that period, there are no other legitimate causes, or criminal proceedings as initiated have been dismissed, the prosecutor investigating criminal offences allegedly committed by the prosecutor general will be reinstated in the previously held office of judge.
If there is reason to believe that the prosecutor general or a deputy prosecutor general has committed a serious violation or systematic dereliction of their official duties which does not constitute a criminal offence, the investigating prosecutor will send the case records to the minister of justice.
Addressing the legislature, BSP for Bulgaria Floor Leader Korneliya Ninova described the bill as "the pinnacle of backstage machinations", after which the MPs of her parliamentary group walked out of the debating chamber.
Petar Petrov MP of Vazrazhdane said, for his part, that the Bulgarian public should be aware that the legislative motions that are being adopted at today's plenary sitting only result from a political deal concerning the mechanism for ousting the prosecutor general rather than from a professional and expert analysis. He commented that the bill was tabled urgently as a product of a gentleman's agreement between the first and second largest parliamentary groups and will be passed by the majority of people "who have not the slightest idea of criminal procedure and have never been professionally in a courtroom, a prosecution office, or a police station". According to Petrov, the purpose of passing the draft legislation is "the save those politicians who do not wish to be investigated".
Miroslav Ivanov MP of Continue the Change - Democratic Bulgaria (CC-DB) argued that "such political insinuations that the bill is the result of a political deal are completely untenable." He insisted that the bill took an enormous amount of work to draft by several leaderships of the Justice Ministry, along with the entire team of the Council of Ministers. "Specifically regarding the mechanism to investigate the prosecutor general, the Venice Commission and Bulgaria's European partners have been approached for observations so that the bill could meet the highest rule of law standards," the MP added.
Nikola Minchev of CC-DB also denied vehemently that the bill was a matter of political deal, "if anything because it does not come up for a plenary debate for the first time."