Sotir Tsatsarov Sworn in as Bulgaria's Chief Prosecutor
Sotir Tsatsarov has taken the oath of office and has been sworn in as Bulgaria's new Chief Prosecutor.
The Thursday ceremony in the main hall of the central court in Sofia was attended by Justice Minister, Diana Kovacheva, Tsatsarov's predecessor, Boris Velchev, who is now a constitutional judge, the Chairman of the Supreme Court of Cassations, Lazar Gruev, the members of the Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, and senior prosecutors.
"I wish him fewer scandals in the 7-year term and to be successful in explaining to the public what is the exact job of the Chief Prosecutor in Bulgaria," Velchev said.
Hours ahead of the ceremony, VSS released Tsatsarov from the post of Chairman of the Plovdiv District Court. His Deputy there, Magdalina Ivanova, is the interim Chair of the Plovdiv Court.
Bulgaria's highest juridical body, VSS, elected him on December 20 in a controversial and highly predictable move, believed to be orchestrated by the ruling GERB party.
Tsatsarov won the position at the first round, with 18 votes "for", 3 "against" and 3 abstentions. He is believed to be close to Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov and Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.
The selection process for the next chief prosecutor has been denounced by civic groups, while Internet forums in Bulgaria are still overflowing with strong criticism and angry reactions.
In the last workday of 2012, President Rosen Plevneliev hurriedly signed a decree officially appointing the controversially elected chief prosecutor.
Those concerns were recalled during the VSS debates for electing the Chief Prosecutor 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.
In his December 20 hearing, the magistrate vowed to work objectively and to continue gradual reforms of Bulgaria's judiciary during his term in office.
It was further reported by the Bulgarian Trud (Labor) daily that Tsatsarov has invited for his deputies his former rivals for the post – Deputy Chief Prosecutor, Galina Toneva and the Head of the Specialized Appellate Prosecutor's Office, Borislav Sarafov.
The election of a new Chief Prosecutor for the country was seen as a key test for the newly constituted VSS. 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.
Sotir Tsatsarov was born in 1966, and graduated in law at the Sofia University. He has served as Plovdiv District Court chair since 1999.