Sotir Tsatsarov was sworn in as Bulgaria’s prosecutor-general on January 10. In his first media statement after officially taking office, Tsatsarov said that he would seek to reform the prosecutor’s office structure and internal proceedings, giving only a vague description of direction of the changes he planned to carry out.
“The problem is not centralisation of prosecution, but creating the right work conditions for prosecutors and freeing them from duties that are not part of the job,” he said.
Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) elected Tsatsarov, a judge and the head of Plovdiv Regional Court, as the next prosecutor-general on December 20, with 18 votes in favour, three against and three abstentions.
The outcome came as no surprise, given that Tsatsarov was billed as the favourite for the job after drawing glowing plaudits for his work from Prime Minister Boiko Borissov and Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov.
Tsatsarov indirectly took note of such criticism, saying that he was giving “unconditional guarantees” that he would not be carrying out any “political or economic errands”.
The controversy surrounding Tsatsarov’s appointment (as reported by The Sofia Globe at the time), did not stop President Rossen Plevneliev from signing the appointment decree on December 21, saying later that he decided to trust Tsatsarov, but that public opinion would judge the new prosecutor-general based on his performance.
The European Commission, which said that it would closely monitor the series of high-level appointments in Bulgaria’s judiciary, said that it was disappointed by the fact that the SJC again failed to avoid controversy (a clear nod to the Veneta Markovska affair), but declined to comment on Tsatsarov himself.
After being sworn in, Tsatsarov nominated four deputy prosecutor-generals, one more than his predecessor Boris Velchev (who left the job several months before the expiration of his seven-year term after being appointed to the Constitutional Court) – including both of his rivals in the race for prosecutor-general, Galina Toneva and Borislav Sarafov.
Toneva, one of Velchev’s deputies, has resigned after the election, but Tsatsarov said he hoped that she would reconsider. He said that the strategies presented by his rivals in the race dovetailed with his own and hoped that they would join his team. The two other nominees are Shoumen district prosecutor Assya Petrova and Plovdiv prosecutor Penka Bogdanova.
By law, the prosecutor general is not limited in the number of deputies he can nominate, but they are appointed by the SJC at his request. The head of Bulgaria’s investigative magistrates service (currently Boiko Naidenov, who served as interim prosecutor-general prior to Tsatsarov’s appointment), is a deputy prosecutor-general ex officio.
(Sotir Tsatsarov, screengrab from Bulgarian national Television)