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Reshuffle at the top of Bulgaria’s prosecutor's office does not ‎quell tensions in the judicial system

Photo: BGNES

The replacement of Bulgaria’s prosecutor general Ivan Geshev, who was ‎dismissed ahead of schedule, with his deputy until recently, Borislav Sarafov, ‎does not succeed in easing the long-standing tension in Bulgaria's judicial ‎system, observers comment.‎

The Bulgarian Judges Association has defined the decision of the Prosecutor's ‎College to elect Borislav Sarafov as acting prosecutor general as "yet another ‎shameful decision, seriously damaging the authority of the judiciary" and called ‎on the Plenum of Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council to appoint a new ‎interim prosecutor general. 

However, the Supreme Judicial Council dismissed ‎three former deputies of Geshev, and Maria Pavlova, former deputy minister of ‎justice, was appointed as Sarafov's deputy.‎

Krasimir Mazgalov
‎"We are witnessing very rapid actions of the Prosecutor's College, which are ‎inexplicable, even more so - unmotivated. The College is an absolute ‎champion of monolithic voting. That is why it is necessary to convene an ‎extraordinary Plenum. This Supreme Judicial Council is delegitimized and has ‎not proven to possess integrity to choose a new prosecutor general," Krasimir ‎Mazgalov, a member of the Bulgarian Judges Association, commented for the ‎BNR.‎ 

‎"In the last month, facts have become known to the public that do not speak ‎well of Sarafov's integrity and professional qualities. Borislav Sarafov fiercely ‎defended the thesis that the procedure for the investigation of the prosecutor ‎general should not be accepted, but suddenly he sharply reversed his position. ‎So when was Mr. Sarafov lying - the first or the second time?"‎

Ivan Geshev's statement from yesterday, in which the now former prosecutor ‎general announced that he was retiring from the judicial system and hinted at a ‎political career, is being widely commented on in Bulgaria today. ‎

‎"It's quite unpleasant and, I would say, shameless for different people to ‎enshrine national ideals and heroes, standing in heroic poses," comments ‎psychiatrist Dr. Lyubomir Kanov:‎

Lyubomir Kanov
"What emerges from the largely theatrical statement of former prosecutor Ivan ‎Geshev is a strange metamorphosis. Given that he has so much information on ‎a number of egregious cases where there is no movement, uninformed people, ‎including myself, are left with the impression that the threads of an ineffective ‎justice system and an informal coalition between the underworld and the ‎judicial system have been dictating for decades how the judicial system in ‎Bulgaria should work and what it should be like."‎

‎"In his speech, Ivan Geshev presents himself as a martyr, a triumphant ‎scapegoat," said psychiatrist and political analyst Dr. Nikolay Mihaylov:‎

D-r Nikolay Mihaylov
‎"Representatives of the elite have lost the internal control of logical thinking ‎and elementary decency, because these persons have long practiced as ‎professionals in lies and professionals of practiced injustice. They have a duty ‎to persecute the injustice practiced everywhere - they must punish the innocent ‎and acquit the guilty. This is the perversion of their craft. If you are bound by ‎this form of behaviour of your own magistrate profession, over time you gain ‎the self-confidence of a person who perfectly and sacrificially fulfils his duty," ‎explains Dr. Mihailov, adding that similar behavior was observed with Geshev ‎‎, Sarafov and similarly with some political figures in Bulgaria.‎

Political scientist Daniel Smilov is adamant that the future of the judicial ‎reform in Bulgaria depends on how the governing bodies will agree to elect the ‎members of the new Supreme Judicial Council and its Inspectorate:‎

Daniel Smilov
‎"The very political approach that will be demonstrated will show whether we ‎are witnessing something new or seeing more of the old. The crystallization of ‎ideas for constitutional reform will be yet another important step. The big ‎question is this - to see the new governing majority in action", says Daniel Smilov.

What does the judicial system look like from a public perspective?‎

Public trust in the judicial system in Bulgaria is quite low and it is difficult to ‎say how much more it will fall, comments the sociologist from "Global ‎Metrics" Radostina Angelova. She believes public attitudes towards the judicial ‎system are mainly formed by the media and reflect, to a large extent, the work ‎on notorious cases and the expectation of justice, which is embedded in the ‎work of the judicial system and concerns the more scandalous cases at the local ‎and national level.‎

Radostina Angelova
‎"If public trust in the judicial system is low, this leads to distancing and ‎scepticism about whether justice is even possible to achieve in Bulgarian ‎society. The independence of the judicial system and its ability to impartially ‎create equality between all parties at stake is strongly questioned," Radostina Angelova comments. ‎

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