Bulgarian Interior Minister Accuses Judge of Mafia Ties
Bulgarian Chief Prosecutor Boris Velchev said that the prosecution would not pursue charges against Sofia City Court judge Miroslava Todorova, who was accused by the Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov of having ties with the mafia.
In several media appearances two weeks ago Tsvetanov accused Todorova, who chairs the Bulgarian Judges Association (BJA) of incompetence, as well as of delaying the issuance of written motives for verdicts against high profile crime figures such as the drug lord Vasil Manikatov.
The judge responded by explaining that the delay did not obstruct justice in any way as the offender in question was already behind bars during the delay. Todorova also threatened to sue the Interior Minister for libel.
Responding to Tsvetanov‘s accusations, three former chairs of the BJA demanded that the Chief Prosecutor investigate the credibility of the allegations brought by the Interior Minister. The former BJA chairs asked whether Tsvetanov has officially contacted the prosecution if he was aware of inappropriate actions by Todorova.
The judges of the Penal Division of the Sofia City Court (SCC) expressed their support for Todorova, saying that by siding with Todorova, they are "backing the idea of a constructive change in the judiciary - a system created to function on the basis of impartiality and professionalism."
Velchev stressed that whenever the police have information about crimes, they submit this information to the prosecution. "If this is all about evaluations, please stop bothering me about it," Velchev told the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency (BTA) on Thursday.
The chief prosecutor also lamented the fact that the case embodied a lack of coordination among prosecutors and said he issued guidelines intended to streamline the work of his unit.
In 2006, the European Commission raised concerns about the weakness of the Bulgarian judicial system, especially relating to corruption. When the country joined the European Union in 2007, the Commission called on Bulgaria to “translate words into deeds and deliver on its commitment to serious reform.“ In a 2008 report by the EU, Bulgaria was asked “to amend the constitution to remove doubts over the independence and accountability of the judicial system.”