Bulgarian President Appoints Controversial Judge as Chief Prosecutor

December 21, 2012, Friday // 06:38
Bulgaria: Bulgarian President Appoints Controversial Judge as Chief Prosecutor
Bulgaria's highest juridical body elected on Thursday Sotir Tsatsarov (pictured) to become the new chief prosecutor. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev has signed a decree officially appointing controversially elected chief prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov.

The President has thus defied calls made by oppositional parties to block Tsatsarov's appointment.

The opposition had argued that his election by the Supreme Judicial Council on Thursday was non-transparent and orchestrated by the ruling centrist-right GERB of Prime Minister Boyko Borisov and Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

Bulgaria's highest juridical body elected on Thursday Sotir Tsatsarov to become the new chief prosecutor in a highly predictable move.Tsatsarov, up to now head of the Plovdiv District Court, won the position at the first round, with 18 votes "for", 3 "against" and 3 abstentions. He will serve a 7-year term.

His two opponents Thursday were Galina Toneva, Deputy Chief Prosecutor, and Borislav Sarafov, head of the Specialized Appellate Prosecutor's Office.

Among concerns voiced by various sides after the initial announcement of Tsatsarov's nomination was his alleged closeness to the executive, in particular to Minister of Interior Tsvetan Tsvetanov.

Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov has also spoken positively of Tsatsarov's candidacy.

In addition, the investigative site Bivol.bg claimed Thursday that Tsatsarov made misleading statements regarding his financial circumstances during a prior hearing.

Those concerns were recalled during the discussion at the Supreme Judicial Council Thursday by council member Kalin Kalpakchiev.

Other critics have brought attention to the exceedingly high number of convicting sentences in trials heard by Tsatsarov as a judge.

The election of a new Chief Prosecutor for the country is seen as a key test for the newly constituted Supreme Judicial Council.

In particular, the European Commission has stated it is keeping close track on the procedure as part of its work on the so-called Co-Operation and Verification Mechanism on corruption and organized crime.

On Friday, the European Commission declared that it follows closely Bulgaria's judiciary and home affairs, with a new Co-operation and Verification Mechanism report possible at any time.

Bulgaria's largest human rights group has quit the civic council with the Supreme Judicial Council in the wake of the controversial election.


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