Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) voted on February 21 to release Galina Toneva from her position as deputy prosecutor-general. She will return to her duties as a prosecutor in the Supreme Prosecution of Cassation, the council ruled.
The motion asking that Toneva is released was tabled by prosecutor-general Sotir Tsatsarov, who said that his reason was “differences between her actions and my vision for teamwork”.
Toneva was deputy prosecutor-general to Tsatsarov’s predecessor Boris Velchev and one of Tsatsarov’s two rivals for the job. After taking his oath of office in January, Tsatsarov asked both his competitors to be deputy prosecutor-generals, saying that their strategies for the office dovetailed with his own.
But in recent days, Toneva has come under fire, with allegations made by the head of Parliament’s special committee investigating high-level corruption, Yane Yanev, that Toneva breached regulations in the distribution of cases that investigated corruption in the energy sector.
Tsatsarov said that in turning the investigations over to two prosecutors from the Supreme Prosecution of Cassation, Toneva overstepped her authority and usurped the authority of the Prosecutor-General.
Toneva said that the cases quoted by investigators, in 2009 and 2010, came at a time when the prosecution received a number of requests to launch investigations into allegations of corruption and all she did was consolidate investigations, rather than have overlapping inquiries.
A report by news website Dnevnik, quoting unnamed judiciary sources, said that Toneva was acting on verbal orders from Velchev, a fact that the former prosecutor-general was prepared to confirm in case there was a disciplinary hearing against Toneva.
(Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov, screengrab from Bulgarian National Television)