In the Aftermath of the Prosecutor General Election

Right after the new Prosecutor General was elected, the Supreme Judicial Council decision caused a line of events which marked the beginning of Sotir Tsatsarov 7-year mandate on the position.
With 18 votes in favor the Supreme Judicial Council elected Sotir Tsatsarov for the Prosecutor General post on December 20, 2012. Three members of the Council voted against and three abstained. The hearing lasted for 9 hours and was followed by debate within the SJC. On the next day the president signed the decree for the appointment of Mr. Tsatsarov on the post.

In-between those dates a political party called for the president not to sign the decree, the European Commission expressed its concerns over the SJC decision practice, an NGO withdrew its membership in the newly formed Civil Council with the SJC.

Bulgaria of the Citizens Movements addressed an appeal to the president not to sign the Prosecutor General appointment decree. The party states that the person who shall exercise the great powers of Prosecutor General within the state for the next seven years there shall be not a shred of doubt as to his lawful behavior in any situation. Unfortunately, the procedure conducted did not bring any confidence in the contrary.

At the same time the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee withdrew its membership in the soon-to-be formed Civil Council with the Supreme Judicial Council. The organization motivated its actions with the Prosecutor General election which was a demonstration of the SJC’s lack of intention to listen closely to the civil society and even its disregard thereof.

Commenting on the event, the EC spokesperson stated that no one benefits from having persons elected on high leading state posts stepping into office under the shadow of insecurity. The EC didn’t comment on the personal qualities of the elected, but stated, however, the EU will keep monitoring Bulgaria over justice and home affairs.

The Bulgarian Judges Union came out with a position stating that the election procedure drastically violates the Constitution because not all of the candidates were voted for within a secret vote. The statement also criticizes the Minister of Justice’s interference with the procedure. The Minister closed the SJC session right after the first candidate gathered 18 votes, not allowing for the other two to be voted. The president must exercise his right to refuse the appointment.

Yesterday one of the opposing parties announced its intentions to write to the Commissioner for Justice, European Commission, Council of Europe, Venice Commission for Democracy through Law. The letter should be sent by the end of January. The socialist will request a meeting with Commissioner Reding to share their concerns on the judiciary, including the Prosecutor General election.

The official oath of office of the Prosecutor General is scheduled to be taken on January 20, 2013.