Bulgarian opposition MPs lodge Constitutional Court challenge to Parliament’s special committee probing high-level corruption
A Constitutional Court challenge to a special parliamentary committee to investigate high-level corruption in Bulgaria, voted into existence on September 20 and scheduled to hold its first meeting on October 4, is being mounted by MPs from the opposition socialist and Movement for Rights and Freedom parties, along with some independents.
The 54 signatures required to lodge the application in the Constitutional Court already have been collected, a news conference held at Parliament before the scheduled sitting of the committee was told.
The proposal was put by Yane Yanev, leader of the miniscule Law Order and Justice party, which, since the estrangement of Volen Siderov and the ultra-nationalist Ataka party from Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB government, has been an informal ally – “constructive opposition”, in Yanev’s words – to Borissov’s administration.
The committee, which will have six MPs from GERB, two from the socialist-led Coalition for Bulgaria, two from Ahmed Dogan’s Movement for Rights and Freedoms, one from the right-wing Blue Coalition, one from Ataka and one independent MP, will have a term of office of six months.
This means that its term will expire a few months before the elections to be held in summer next year.
Yanev told the House on September 20 that the committee should investigate suspected corruption in connection with various high-profile controversies in recent years, including the Tsankov Kamuk dam scheme, the financial crisis around state railways BDZ, the now-scrapped Belene nuclear power station saga, the Arsenal plant in the town of Kazanluk, among others.
The Constitutional Court challenge was announced on October 4 by Bulgarian Socialist Party MP Lyuben Kornezov and Chetin Kazak, a member of Ahmed Dogan’s MRF.
“This committee does not aim at disclosing corruption but to interfere in the work of the judicial branch. Yane Yanev is given the right to require and analyse trials, correspondence, while the termination of a lawsuit is done with a decree of the court and the prosecutor’s office,” Kornezov said.
Kornezov, a former Constitutional Court judge, said that the fact that Bulgaria was a parliamentary republic did not mean that it had a parliamentary government. He said that he was certain that the court would pronounce the ad-hoc committee unconstitutional.
Constitutionally, Parliament was empowered only to oversee the executive branch. It could not exercise parliamentary control of the judiciary, he said.
He said that in regard to the mandate of the committee to investigate high-level corruption,Bulgariahad no statutory or any other legal definition of what constituted “high-level”.
Kornezov said that since the current centre-right GERB government came to power in July 2009, the Constitutional Court had declared 124 texts of its laws unconstitutional. “GERB and its satellites are champions when it comes to being unconstitutional,” he said.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)