Bulgarian Judge Sues Interior Minister for Libel
The Chair of the Bulgarian Judges Association, Miroslava Todorova, filed a libel lawsuit against the Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov. The first hearing in the case is scheduled for April 27th at the Plovdiv Regional Court. Todorova sued Tsvetanov for saying that she is incompetent and is patronizing organized crime.
Tsvetanov’s criticism of Todorova is a part of an ongoing media war between the Bulgarian judiciary and law enforcement, in which each side blames the other for the country’s failure to meet the reform goals set by the European Union.
In an interview for the Bulgarian National Television in February, Tsvetanov said that “There are approaches applied in the judiciary by like-minded judges who are actually not in the service of society…but rather in the service of organized crime.”
The Union of Judges in Bulgaria responded to the attacks from the Ministry of Interior by accusing them of placing undue pressure on the judiciary. Concerns over the independence of the Bulgarian judiciary are a prominent issue in the European Union’s assessment of Bulgaria’s progress.
Todorova sued the Interior Minister for libel on February 6th, at the Sofia Regional Court. The Supreme Court of Cessation ordered the trial to be held at the court in Plovdiv because Todorova is a judge at the the Sofia City Court. Ekaterina Roglekova, the judge assigned to the case, is the chair of the Criminal Division of the Plovdiv Regional Court.
If Tsvetanov is found guilty, the prosecution will ask for a public reprimand and a US$3,350 – 10,000 fine that will be deposited into the state budget.