Bulgarian Prosecutor-General to propose structure to deal with corruption cases

Bulgarian Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov said on January 29 that he would propose, in the coming week, a structure to deal with corruption cases.

Tsatsarov was speaking a day after the release of the European Commission report on Bulgaria under the Co-operation and Verification Mechanism, intended to bring the country up to EU standards in the judiciary and in the fight against organised crime and corruption.

The report made a number of recommendations, including several that had been put forward in previous reports but which Bulgaria has not implemented.

Among the report’s recommendations was that Bulgaria should “entrust a single institution with the task to coordinate the fight against corruption, to assist and coordinate the efforts in different sectors.”

Tsatsarov said that his office also would put forward amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code to prevent the large-scale avoidance by people who have been given jail sentences of actually going to prison.

The EC report’s recommendations had included that Bulgaria should “specifically address the problem of high-level defendants absconding before a final court decision, with a clear assignment of the responsibility for any failings”.

Tsatsarov did not give details of how the measure would work.

In an earlier formal statement reacting to the CVM report, Tsatsarov’s office said that the report presents an accurate picture of “the real situation in the field of justice and home affairs and the conclusions and evaluations outlined are shared in Bulgaria, too”.

The recommendations regarding the judiciary and the fight against corruption and organised crime should be considered major reference points and goals for implementation in 2015 for all institutions of the state, the Prosecutor-General’s office said.

Eleonora Nikolova, acting head of the Centre for Prevention and Combating Corruption and Organised Crime, commonly known by its Bulgaria contraction Borkor, said that the previous government had put the anti-corruption service “in the freezer”.

Speaking to Bulgarian National Radio on January 29, she said that existing services to combat corruption should be built on, rather than creating new ones.

Borkor should become a strong central institution to lead other institutions and to measure the results, she said.

Justice Minister Hristo Ivanov said that the CVM report called for a serious rethink of policies and practices.

Ivanov, who took office as part of the caretaker cabinet in August 2014 and stayed on in the cabinet elected into office in November, said that the CVM report accurately identified problem areas.

“We should realise that we have until the next EC report to the EU Council in the summer of 2015 to reform substantially specific institutions, statutory acts and policies, as well as the conduct of individuals with political and administrative responsibilities,” Ivanov said.



The Sofia Globe staff

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