Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council courts controversy with interim chief prosecutor appointment
Bulgaria’s recently-elected Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) has wasted little time in showing its decisions will be as hotly debated as those of its predecessor, appointing Boiko Naidenov as interim chief prosecutor on November 6. The appointment has been made necessary after incumbent Boris Velchev has been appointed by President Rossen Plevneliev to the Constitutional Court several months before his term as chief prosecutor expires.
Naidenov was last week re-elected head of the National Investigative Service, a position that makes him ex officio deputy chief prosecutor. His appointment as interim chief prosecutor makes him the favourite to succeed Velchev full time, local commentators said.
Naidenov was preferred ahead of Galina Toneva, Velchev’s deputy that has been described by local media as Velchev’s “right-hand and routine place-holder”. She was previously thought to be the front-runner to replace Velchev.
SJC’s appointment was preceded by a long debate on whether he had the authority to take over as interim chief prosecutor, since as an investigative magistrate, he is ranked below prosecutors in Bulgaria’s legal system.
The legal quandary was outlined by two SJC members elected to the council from the ranks of prosecutors – Roumen Boev and former deputy chief prosecutor Kamen Sitnilski. Even though a deputy chief prosecutor by virtue of his office, Naidenov did not have the authority to oversee the work of prosecutors, Boev said.
Nevertheless, the appointment was confirmed with 14 votes in favour – mostly, from a lobby of SJC members close to the head of the Supreme Administrative Court Georgi Kolev and the country’s ruling party, GERB, news website mediapool.bg said.
(Photo: Jason Morisson/sxc.hu)