Bulgaria's Judicial Reform Debates Marked by Tension
The rhetoric exchanged between the executive, magistrates and prosecutors is sharpening amidst a debate on a judicial reform aimed at boosting the efficiency of the justice systems.
Bulgaria's top judicial body, the Supreme Judicial Council (VSS), on Thursday openly called for the resignation of Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov over that it described as "attempt at a socialist revolution".
Ivanov and his ministry are staunch supporters of reforms which will result in the restructuring of the VSS, in a move the minister says will put an end to decades-old practices hampering the work of the judicial system and tarnishing its image.
The VSS, however, asked on Thursday Prime Minister Boyko Borisov to intervene as a referee between the two "sides" after Ivanov accused magistrates of using the council as a system for "peddling of legal cases".
Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor Sotir Tsatsarov, who has occasionally embroiled in disputes with Ivanov over the past months, was not present at the heated debate.
Tsatsarov, however, explained to reporters the same day that "it is of no use to carry out a reform which will push fellow magistrates to divide again."
The judicial reform should not "turn into a territory for political exercises," he told private national channel bTV, referring to allegations coming from some magistrates (including VSS members) that the government is actually intending to carry out "political purges" and subjugate the judiciary.
Fuel was added to the fire when the Sofia City Prosecutor's Office on Wednesday ordered a police probe into the Justice Ministry after an article published by daily Trud hurled allegations of flawed public procurement of air conditioners.
Tsatsarov refuted claims that the inspection is a matter of "bickering" between prosecutors and the ministry and said it was part of the routine.
Judicial reform proposals include reducing the terms of VSS members and dividing the body into two chambers, one for judges and one for prosecutors.
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