Bulgaria’s top judiciary body splits into separate colleges
Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council approved on April 14 a decision of how to distribute its current members into the new judges and prosecutors colleges, as mandated by constitutional amendments last year and changes to the Judiciary Act last month.
The unanimous decision was described as “surprising” by the specialist judiciary news website Legalworld.bg. The amendments did not stipulate what criteria were to be used for the split, which prompted speculation in recent days that the existing majority in the SJC – which reports in some media link to prosecutor-general Sotir Tsatsarov – would use arbitrary rules in order to weaken internal dissent.
In the end, the SJC decided to allocate the members based on their most recent employment prior to being elected to sit on the council; as a result, that the most vocal internal critics on the SJC would sit on the judges college. Five current members of the SJC had threatened to resign unless that criterion was used for the allocation.
Website Mediapool.bg, which is one of the media outlets most critical of the SJC, described it as a compromise, noting that the “opposition” members would now be able to block judiciary appointments if a single member of the “majority” bloc is absent.
The issue will not rise again in the future, as the amended law envisions future line-ups of the SJC having members elected directly to one of the colleges.
(Photo: Jason Morisson/sxc.hu)