Statement in Support of the Union of Judges in Bulgaria on the Crisis in the Leadership of the Prosecutor's Office

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC) supports the declaration of the Union of Judges in Bulgaria (UJB), made public earlier today, with which the union calls not only for Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev, his deputy Borislav Sarafov, and the deputy director of the National Investigative Service Yassen Todorov to be suspended from office in order to ensure an objective, comprehensive and complete investigation of the facts and circumstances of the proceedings for early dismissal of the Chief Prosecutor but also for the members of the personnel body to resign.

We also fervently support the call made by the UJB for serious constitutional reform on the judiciary in full compliance with the recommendations of the Venice Commission, as well as with the requirements for the implementation of the judgment of the European Court of Human Rights in the case of Kolevi v. Bulgaria.

As early as November 2019 we insisted before the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) that Ivan Geshev is unsuitable for the post of Chief Prosecutor and should not be elected as such. The SJC openly sabotaged several attempts for Mr Geshev's early dismissal. The current situation is a logical development of this disregard for the obvious.

It is also evident that there is a deep flaw in the leadership of the prosecution service to which the SJC can no longer turn a blind eye, despite its own discredit and damaged legitimacy. What has been unfolding before our eyes has long been intolerable and you owe it to yourself to take effective action to resolve it definitively. This is a matter of dignity.

It is also a matter of dignity that those responsible for the election of Messrs Geshev, Sarafov and Todorov resign. That the corruption caused to the SJC by the shadowy centres of power is grave is beyond doubt. However, the departure of this body, which has lost its legitimacy, is an act of decency due in the name of strengthening the judiciary and the state.

Adela Kachaunova, attorney-at-law
Director of the Legal Defence Programme
of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee