Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) decided on November 18 to fire Roumyana Chenalova as a judge, nearly a year after she came to public attention over her handling of a bankruptcy hearing, a case that reignited debate about the state of Bulgaria’s judiciary.
The investigation against Chenalova began in December 2014, after French ambassador in Sofia Xavier Lapeyre de Cabanes spoke about the bankruptcy case handled by Chenalova – which involved two French-owned firms, Belvedere Bulgaria and Domaine Menada – in a TV interview.
At the time, Chenalova denied the accusations that she case was mis-handled, but recused herself to avoid doubts about the impartiality of the court. The SJC opened further disciplinary proceedings against Chenalova, including for repeated delays in issuing the legal reasoning for her rulings (reportedly, this happened in more than 50 cases) and she was suspended in January.
In April, she briefly caught the public’s eye again, when prosecutors put her on the wanted list after she failed to appear at a scheduled meeting with investigators. Chenalova was briefly detained when she turned herself in the next day.
(The Palace of Justice in Sofia. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)