Bulgaria Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Judge Dismissal

Society | July 27, 2012, Friday // 10:56
Bulgaria Supreme Court Refuses to Suspend Controversial Judge Dismissal: Bulgaria Supreme Court Upholds Controversial Judge Dismissal Judge Miroslava Todorova, gained reputation as the strongest critic of the Supreme Judicial Council and Interior Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov. Photo by BGNES

A five-member panel of Bulgaria's Supreme Administrative Court , VAS, has ruled to not put on hold the dismissal of judge Miroslava Todorova.

Miroslava Todorova, Chair of the Bulgarian Judges Association, BJA, and Judge at the Sofia City Court is appealing with VAS her dismissal by the Supreme Judicial Council, VSS.

Last Wednesday, a three-member VAS panel refused to suspend temporarily the decision to fire her, which she also appealed.

The latest VAS decision means that all 40 cases tried by Todorova, some of whom, such as the "Sofiyski Imoti" (Sofia Properties) one and the one against drug lord Anton Savov AKA Mamata, are monitored by the European Commission, will have to start from scratch.

Without a hearing, Todorova was dismissed on July12 by VSS on disciplinary grounds over the unreasonable delay of proceedings. The move not only came just days ahead of the release of the EC Monitoring Report on Bulgaria's Justice System and Internal Affairs under the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism, but found its place in it.

The report noted 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 pointed out that professional organizations have raised the issue of some judges being punished for the delays while others are being tolerated.

After the VSS decision, Torodova filed a claim with VAS to annul it on grounds the move will allow her to continue work on her caseload. She is one of Sofia City Court magistrates with the most cases. In 2011 she tried 300 cases.

The Judge warned that her dismissal means that scores of cases must start from scratch. Todorva also noted that she has 5 Court sessions scheduled from July 18 to July 27.

The Judge further stressed that her dismissal would burden with additional work other panels, would increase the waste of time of State institutions and citizens and expenses from the budget of the Judiciary Power.

All these reasons were rejected by the three-member panel of VAS. The five-member panel accepted the motives of the lower instance and ruled the decision to not suspend temporarily the dismissal as being "correct."

Todorova also challenged the three-member panel and asked for their self-withdrawal because the case was assigned to judges from the Sixth VAS Division, which is no longer involved in dealing with VSS acts.

The VAS Chair, Judge, Georgi Kolev, declined the request of a number of Bulgarian media to make the selection of the five-member panel open for the public.

Judge Miroslava Todorova, gained reputation as the strongest critic of 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.

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 July 16, at an emergency meeting, called by Justice Minister, Diana Kovacheva, VSS, upheld the controversial decision.

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Tags: Supreme Administrative Court, VAS, Deputy Prime Minister, Tsvetan Tsvetanov, cooperation and verification mechanism, Justice System and Internal Affairs, monitoring report, European Commission, provocation, Sofia City Court, libel, Bulgarian Judges Association, Interior Minister, VSS, Supreme Judicial Council, dismissed, Miroslava Todorova, judge, Boyko Borisov, Prime Minister, Diana Kovacheva, Justice Minister, Rosen Plevneliev, president, protest, rally

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