New Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor Announces Deputies Team
As expected, Bulgaria's newly-elected Chief Prosecutor, Sotir Tsatsarov, announced that his former rivals for the post – Galina Toneva and Borislav Sarafov – are to become his deputies.
Tsatsarov spoke at a briefing Thursday after taking the oath of office.
Toneva was already a Deputy Chief Prosecutor in the office of Tsatsarov's predecessor, Boris Velchev. She declared earlier, she would resign to give the new Chief Prosecutor the opportunity to appoint his own team.
Speaking at the briefing, Tsatsarov said her credentials for the post were undisputable, adding she had fulfilled the promise to resign, but to his pleasure, has accepted his invitation to join again the Chief Prosecutor's team.
He grounded his other choice – Borislav Sarafov, Head of the Specialized Appellate Prosecutor's Office, on the latter's extensive experience at all levels of the prosecuting authority.
The third deputy, designated by Tsatsarov, is the spokesperson of the Plovdiv Appellate Prosecutor's Office, Penka Bogdanova. He said he knew her qualities and work well and was certain she was suitable for the post.
The fourth is the Chair of the Regional Prosecutor's Office in the northeastern city of Shumen, Asya Petrova. Her name made headlines after the recent guilty verdicts in the high-profile "Killers" criminal case. She received high marks for them by Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, and it is common knowledge that she is one of his favorites.
Tsatsarov explained he knew her excellent work, and firmly denied any possibility he had chosen her on Tsvetanov's instructions.
Boyko Naydenov, who was the interim Chief Prosecutor, would be the other Deputy Chief Prosecutor. Tsatsarov inherited from former Chief Prosecutor, Boris Velchev, now constitutional judge, three deputies – Toneva, Naydenov, and Valeri Parvanov. Naydenov has secured the deputy post since he was elected by the Supreme Judicial Council, VSS, for a second 5-year term as Chief of the Investigative Services.
It was a surprise that Parvanov, Sofia City Prosecutor, Nikolay Kokinov, and Plovdiv Appellate Prosecutor, Ivan Daskalov, did not make the cut.
The new Chief Prosecutor nominated Kamen Mihov for Deputy Prosecutor at the Supreme Administrative Prosecutor's Office.
"I will try to become a guarantor of justice and fairness, but I don't know if I will be successful. The others will have to say. The Chief Prosecutor does not have a magic wand," he said after taking the oath of office.
He, however, pledged to analyze cases in which Bulgaria was sentenced by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, and a number of high-profile cases in the country.
Tsatsarov added the prosecution must respond to expectations of society for successfully dealing with crime.
He now has a seven-year term to make the much needed changes and reforms.
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, 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 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 work day 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.
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.
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