Supreme Council Probes 80 Strasbourg Cases against Bulgaria
The Supreme Judicial Council of Bulgaria examined an unprecedented letter of 64 Plovdiv magistrates, complaining of being attacked in the media. File photo
The Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, has ordered a probe in the 80 rules of the Strasbourg Human Rights Court against Bulgaria.
The list was sent by prominent human rights lawyer in the second largest city of Plovdiv, Mihail Ekimdzhiev, who has won these 80 cases in Strasbourg.
The list was the lawyer's response to an unprecedented letter of sixty four outraged magistrates from the Plovdiv Regional Court, who asked VSS to assess their work.
The outrage was stirred by recent media publications.
In the letter, the judges opposed media claims that the Plovdiv Court has the strongest concentration of violations of human rights of freedom and due process, leading to the majority of cases against Bulgaria to be filed with the Strasbourg Human Rights Court due to the Plovdiv Court rules.
They further rejected statements about them working in a feudal environment or in military barracks, stressing the insults stem from the procedure for the election of the country's new Chief Prosecutor.
The authors of the letter asked VSS to assess their work and state publically their position on the issues. VSS examined their request Thursday.
In the letter, the judges explained that they did not oppose freedom of press and were not blaming the media, stressing there was one main source of such negativity – an unnamed law office in Plovdiv with "serious interests in criminal verdicts." The said office is presumed to be Ekimdziev's.
The lawyer reacted in noting the protection of the State from crime should not be done at the expense of the rule of law and the Constitution.
"What if innocent people end up in jail over somebody's temporary glory and strive for better stats? The post of the next Chief Prosecutor is at stake here. Obviously Tsatsarov's colleagues are attempting to polish his tarnished public image lately," Ekimdzhiev, who is also Chairman of the Association for European Integration and Human Rights, commented.
He presented the list of 80 guilty verdicts (out of a total of 395 in 1992 – 2011) against Bulgaria, issued by the Strasbourg Court, all pertaining to the practice of Plovdiv's Courts, and in most cases connected with violations of the rights of freedom and due process.
Ekimdziev insists Tsatsarov holds regular meetings with the police and the prosecutors where guilty verdicts are discussed in disregard of the law and the rule of separation of powers.
On Thursday, VSS gave to Georgi Chambov, Head of the Plovdiv Appellate Court, 10 days to find out if the above is true, and if so – to check who were the judges trying the said cases.
VSS also rejected the proposal to reprimand Ekimdzhiev for the language he uses when commenting Court rules.
On Tuesday, Galya Georgieva, a member of VSS and a former Plovdiv appellate judge, said the Plovdiv magistrates had all reasons to be upset and outraged.
"It is obvious the attacks on the colleagues are connected with Tsatsarov. I was one of the people who nominated him because I firmly believe in his qualities and credentials as magistrate. The Plovdiv Court works like a Swiss clock. What would you want from us – to set criminals free? The Court is an arbiter, but it must issue fair and adequate sentences," Georgieva stated.
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