Bulgarian PM Lauds President for Blocking Controversial Judge
Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, has applauded the decision of Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, to leave the ceremony for the oath of office of one of the country's new constitutional judges, blocking her appointment.
Speaking at a briefing for the signing of the contracts for natural gas supplies and the South Stream gas pipeline project with Russian energy giant Gazprom, Borisov said Plevneliev had made a "very good and wise move."
He reminded that he had asked on three occasions judge Veneta Markovska to drop her Constitutional Court bid, but she failed to understand that Bulgaria is committed to have maximum transparency in the judicial system.
Earlier Thursday, the President left the ceremony at the moment controversial magistrate, Veneta Markovska, had to be sworn in. He delivered an address to the new members of the Constitutional Court, but left the hall when it had been Markovska's turn to take the oath.
The other three - Georgi Angelov, a magistrate from VAS, elected from the judicial quota, former Chief Prosecutor, Boris Velchev, who was nominated by the President, and the second one (in addition to Markovska) from the parliamentary quota – former Deputy Speaker of the Parliament from the ruling Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria party, GERB, Anastas Anastasov, have been sworn in.
Plevneliev's move in reality blocks Markovska's joining of the Constitutional Court since under the law the oath is considered valid only if taken in the presence of the Head of State.
The President explained that a letter from the Prosecutor's Office, which he received in the last minute, only made him even firmer in his decision to block Markovska.
The case in question involves a pretrial procedure from 2010, launched on a tipoff from the Main Directorate for Combatting Organized Crime, GDBOP. It is against an unknown perpetrator for trading influence, money laundering, and bribes. According the Bulgarian National Radio, BNR, the case is connected to Georgi Georgiev, who is believed to have been Markovska's live-in boyfriend. She denied the above, saying first that she did not know him, and later that he was just a distant acquaintance. There are suspicions that through him she had received "donations" related to her work as a judge.
The Speaker of the Parliament, Tsetska Tsacheva, and the Chairs of the Supreme Court of Cassations, and of the Supreme Administrative Court, VAS, also attended the ceremony.
The Prosecutor's Office is giving an emergency briefing at 1 pm Thursday.
The Constitutional Court issued their opinion that the Parliament should now decide if they will re-launch the procedure to elect another constitutional judge from their quota.
In the aftermath, Markovska has declared she had no intentions to give up on joining the Constitutional Court, but legal experts say the case is closed for her.
Plevneliev's move is a precedent in the entire history of the Constitutional Court since 1991 when it was established.
Markovska's appointment stirred a huge scandal in Bulgaria over a tipoff sent to Members of the Parliament from the opposition and an investigative journalistic report raising suspicions of trading influence and corruption. The case "Markovska" "traveled" all the way to the European Commission, which warned Bulgaria twice about the possibility of issuing an interim report under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.
Thursday morning, the Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, accepted the resignation of Veneta Markovska as Deputy Chair of the Supreme Administrative Court, VAS.
Out of 22, 18 voted for, 2 against and two abstained, paving the way of the controversial magistrate to the Constitutional Court.
The VSS Ethical Committee meanwhile has dropped plans to probe the tipoffs against her, bTV reported.
In recent days, Plevneliev called on all newly-elected constitutional judges, "except Markovska," to take the oath. Prime Minister, Boyko Borisov, reiterated three times he had asked her to drop her bid, while Justice Minister, Diyana Kovacheva, stated the reputation of one person cannot be more important than the reputation of the State.
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