Bulgaria: Former Judge Jailed for Bribery

For the first time in the country’s recent history, a judge has been sent to prison for bribery in Bulgaria.

3D Judges GavelJudge's Gavel (Photo Credit: Wikimedia)The Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office said on April 20, 2016 that former judge Slavcho Petkov has started serving his sentence in the prison in the northwestern city of Lovech.

On April 7, 2016, after several appeals, Bulgaria’s Supreme Court ordered Petkov imprisoned for four years and banned him from holding any post as a magistrate or in the legal profession for a period of seven years.

Slavcho Petkov from the District Court in the central city of Veliko Tarnovo was indicted for taking a bribe of 16,000 Bulgarian levs (€ 8,173.93, US$ 9,238.80) from a defendant.  He was arrested in 2010 after the defendant complained the judge had blackmailed him, asking for 25,000 levs (€ 12,769.79, US$ 14,435.51).  For that amount, the judge promised to "fix things" in the defendant’s case.  The defendant was accused, with five other people, of stealing 10 tons of petroleum.

Bulgaria has widespread problems in its courts.  It has drawnstrong criticism in European Commission reports on Bulgaria’s progress towards judicial reform and the fight against organized crime and corruption under its Cooperation and Verification Mechanism.

Petkov is the first judge in recent times to serve actual jail time in Bulgaria.  In June 2015, a prosecutor, Rumen Penev, was jailed after being convicted of trading influence and in January this year a judge was given a one-year suspended sentence for approving illegal wiretapping.  


By Maria Guineva in Sofia