Bulgarian Court Confirms Controversial Sacking of Judge
A three-member panel of Bulgaria's Supreme Administrative Court, VAS, has confirmed the notorious dismissal of Judge Miroslava Todorova.
Three days ago, the magistrates also confirmed another sanction against the judge – reducing her salary.
Without a hearing, Todorova, Chair of the Bulgarian Judges Association, BJA, and Judge at the Sofia City Court, SGS, was dismissed on July 12 by the Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, on disciplinary grounds over the unreasonable delay of proceedings.
One of the motives of Todorova to appeal the sanctions was possible bias of VSS because BJA is known as its strongest critic.
VAS, however, ruled that VSS has not been influenced in making their decision to dismiss the BJA Chair and the fact that she was not summoned to defend her position before VAS is not in violation of the law. The judge is also sentenced to pay BGN 150 in Court expenses.
The rule is not final and can be appealed before a 5-member panel of VAS.
The July dismissal of Todorova not only came just days ahead of the release of the European Commission's Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, CVM, report on the country, but found its place in it. The report pointed out that professional organizations have raised the issue of some judges being punished for the delays while others are being tolerated.
Judge Miroslava Todorova has gained reputation as the strongest critic of both VSS and Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.
The decision to dismiss her stirred a large number of political comments and media reports, while Bulgarian judges staged an unprecedented protest rally against the dismissal.
In October, the Plovdiv Regional Court exonerated Tsvetanov in a libel case initiated by Miroslava Todorova.
Todorova filed the libel lawsuit against the Minister with the Sofia Regional Court on February 6 2012.
The step was triggered by two consecutive interviews of the Interior Minister in which he accused her of incompetence and of patronizing organized crime because of the delayed presentation of the written motives to an eight-year jail sentence handed down to drug lord Vasil Manikatov.
Todorova insisted that Tsvetanov had voiced untrue and defamatory allegations about her work as a judge and as BJA Chair.
It emerged later that at the time Manikatov received the 8-year jail sentence from Todorova, he was supposed to be behind bars for another crime, which is what she says made her think it would be permissible to delay writing her motives.
Meanwhile, the prisoner was released on parole, and since Todorova's verdict was not effective, he remained at large, which became the grounds of Tsvetanov's accusations.
Both Tsvetanov and Todorova did not appear in person for either of the Court sessions.
The material presented by private TV station bTV proved to be "technically unfit", which prevented the expert witness from preparing a phonoscope analysis.
Todorova was not seeking a monetary award and if the Interior Minister was found guilty, he would have been penalized with a public reprimand and a fine of BGN 5000-15000 which will go into the State coffers.
The proceedings were ordered relocated to the Plovdiv-based court by the Supreme Court of Cassation (VKS) due to the fact that Todorova is a judge at the Sofia City Court.
The judge is appealing Tsvetanov's acquittal.