Bulgarian Judges Demand again Supreme Council Dismissal
Bulgarian district, city and supreme judges are asking for the second time in the last few days for the resignation of the country's Supreme Judicial Council, VSS.
This time the request and the petition are directed to the Members of the Parliament. The judges remind them that the law gives the option to dismiss VSS members from the parliamentary quota on grounds of commitment of acts tarnishing the image of the Judicial Power.
They warn that from now on, the current VSS can only harm even more the embattled justice system and its members should be prevented from taking any further decisions.
The discontent with VSS was prompted by its decision to dismiss Miroslava Todorova, Chair of the Bulgarian Judges Association, BJA, and Judge at the Sofia City Court.
Without a hearing, Todorova was dismissed last Thursday by VSS on disciplinary grounds over the unreasonable delay of proceedings. The move came just days ahead of the release of the European Commission's Monitoring Report on Bulgaria's Justice System and Internal Affairs under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.
Judge Miroslava Todorova, gained reputation as the strongest critic of the Supreme Judicial Council and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov.
The decision stirred a large number of political comments and media reports, while Bulgarian judges staged an unprecedented protest rally against the dismissal.
Tsvetanov, who is being sued by Todorova for defamation, firmly rejects claims that he is behind her ousting and explains he learned of her existence and began criticizing her only after people victimized by crime turned to him to complain about her.
On Monday, at an emergency meeting, called by Justice Minister, Diana Kovacheva, VSS, upheld the controversial decision.
The dismissal, as expected, is reflected in the draft EC report that leaked in the media one day before its official release. The report notes that the difference in the workload in different Courts leads to serious delays, particularly in writing motives for verdicts. According to EC, the delays harm not only the effectiveness of the judicial process, but the independence of magistrates, according to the EC.
The report also points out that professional organizations raise the issue of some judges being punished for the delays while others are being tolerated.
On Tuesday that Todorova was officially notified by VSS of their decision to dismiss her. She has filed an appeal with the Supreme Administrative Court, VAS, to annul the decision. VAS is mandated by the law to rule immediately in such cases.