Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) appointed Vesselin Hadjiev as head of the Plovdiv Regional Court, filling the vacancy created after Sotir Tsatsarov was elected Prosecutor-General last year. Hadjiev was previously the head of the Plovdiv District Court.
Hadjiev’s appointment was predicted well in advance of the vote – especially by critics of SJC’s appointment policies, who said that Hadjiev was promoted to a top management position despite having no experience at the regional courts level.
In Bulgaria’s judicial system, district courts are the general trial courts for most lawsuits. Regional courts are the rung above district courts, serving as first-instance courts for certain types of lawsuits, but also hearing appeals against district courts’ rulings.
Some critics also see Hadjiev’s promotion as his reward for “securing a favourable outcome” for former interior minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov in the slander case brought by the former head of Bulgaria’s judges union Miroslava Todorova.
Todorova, one of the biggest critics of the SJC and Tsvetanov, filed a complaint after Tsvetanov accused her of ties to the organised crime. The Plovdiv district court acquitted Tsvetanov, with an appeal lodged in the regional court. (Todorova has been fired as a judge for delays in sentencing by the SJC, with critics blaming Tsvetanov and his allies in the judiciary, who hold a majority in the SJC, for the sacking.)
(Justice Palace in Sofia. Photo: Klearchos Kapoutsis/flickr.com)