Justice Minister Asks Supreme Judicial Council Plenum to Dismiss Prosecutor General

NW 19:11:32 02-03-2022

Justice Minister Asks
Supreme Judicial Council Plenum
to Dismiss Prosecutor General

Sofia, March 2 (BTA) - Bulgarian Justice Minister Nadezhda Yordanova has asked the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Plenum to consider her proposal to relieve Ivan Geshev of his responsibilities as prosecutor general by reason of a serious violation or systematic dereliction of his official duties and actions damaging the prestige of the judiciary, Yordanova's Ministry said in a press release on Wednesday.

Yordanova cited nine new circumstances substantiating her request for Geshev's dismissal, including several scandalous cases, the Prosecutor General's going on record as suspecting a possible manipulation of the random case allocation system at the courts, and disrespectful, sneering and hostile attitude to non-governmental organizations, individuals and legal practitioners' communities.

The Justice Minister's moves follows a Constitutional Court decision of February 8, 2022, according to which the Justice Minister is competent to propose to the SJC the early dismissal of the Prosecutor General and the presidents of the Supreme Court of Cassation and of the Supreme Administrative Court if they are found to have committed serious violations, systematically fail to fulfill their official duties, or their actions damage the reputation of judiciary.

Consequent to the Constitutional Court decision, the SJC will be bound to consider such a proposal for dismissal on the merits.

On July 22, 2021, the SJC Plenum voted, 12-8, to leave aside a proposal by the then caretaker justice minister, Yanaki Stoilov, to initiate a procedure for Geshev's removal from office.

"I don't think the prosecutor general should be pronounced a criminal in order to assess whether he meets or does not meet certain rigorous standards. Any holder of such position of responsibility can hardly be said to perpetrate a couple of crimes every month," Stoilov, who is now a Constitutional Court judge, said in a bTV interview in early February.

He doubts it that, when approached with a proposal for Geshev's early dismissal by the Justice Minister, the SJC will adopt it by the required two-thirds majority or 17 votes, given that Geshev was elected Prosecutor General in October 2019 by the same complement of the Council by a majority of 20 to 4.

The term of office of the present SJC complement expires in October 2022.

Reacting to Yordanova's proposal, the prosecution service described it in a press release as "yet another groundless demand personally targeting the Prosecutor General".

"The fact that this demand is based on false allegations, media insinuations and fabricated alerts that have been amassed over a long period of time at the Ministry of Justice shows solely and exclusively that the prosecution service is coming under wrongful political pressure pursuing illegitimate objectives," the press release says.

It sees the Justice Ministry's announcement as an indication of "profound ignorance" of the Bulgarian Constitution and the Judicial System Act and of the prosecutor general's powers they regulate.

The prosecution service is convinced that the "complete legal untenability" of Yordanova's proposal will become completely clear in the course of the public discussion. RY/LG//