Bulgarian prosecutors arrest controversial judge

Bulgaria’s prosecutor’s office said on April 15 that Roumyana Chenalova, the judge at the centre of a controversy about a bankruptcy hearing that has re-ignited debate about the state of Bulgaria’s judiciary, has been arrested for 72 hours. The previous day, the prosecutors put Chenalova on the wanted list after she failed to appear at a scheduled meeting with investigators.

The prosecutor’s office said that it would seek Chenalova’s continued detention after the 72-hour arrest expired, but gave no further details about whether she turned herself in, as reported by some local media.

Chenalova was being investigated for, and expected to be charged with, malfeasance in office and document fraud. As part of the investigation, she was subpoenaed to meet with investigators, but failed to appear citing illness, the prosecutor’s office said on April 14.

After questioning Chenalova’s physician, who said that the illness was not severe enough to prevent her from leaving home, and after being unable to find Chenalova at her registered addresses in Sofia and Stara Zagora, prosecutors ordered putting Chenalova on the nationwide wanted list.

Chenalova was suspended as a judge in Sofia City Court for six months in January 2015 as a result of disciplinary proceedings into her handling of the Belvedere case, involving bankruptcy proceedings regarding two Bulgarian subsidiaries of a French firm, which led France’s ambassador in Sofia, Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes, to allege in a television interview that there were “rotten apples” in Bulgaria’s judiciary.

Allegations against Chenalova also included claims that she was culpable for delayed rulings in about 50 cases, showed bias in dealing with the Belvedere case, and, according to media reports, had not conducted herself properly in dealing with a case involving SAPARD funds. Chenalova denied wrongdoing.

(Photo: Jason Morisson/sxc.hu)



The Sofia Globe staff

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