Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) elected Georgi Cholakov as the next head of the Supreme Administrative Court (SAC), one of the country’s two high courts, on September 11.
Cholakov was widely seen as the favourite against Sonya Yankulova, a current member of the SJC, due to the support offered by incumbent SAC chief Georgi Kolev, whose term expires in November.
Kolev is seen as one of the mainstays of the majority block in the SJC – made up mostly by Parliament’s appointees and members elected by prosecutors – that are opposed by the smaller and more reform-minded group made up of members elected by judges.
Cholakov’s appointment has had its share of detractors, starting from those who said that the current SJC, whose controversy-ridden term expires later this year, should not have been filling one of the highest positions in the judiciary.
Lozan Panov, head of the Supreme Court of Cassation, also criticised the timing of the election in the summer months, saying that there was no substantial debate within the SAC itself and that the court’s judges had no opportunity to hear the candidates’ ideas for the future development of the court.
Recent media reports have also claimed that some SAC judges, speaking off the record, complained that the current SAC leadership under Kolev pressured judges to speak out in support of Cholakov.
Cholakov’s appointment has to be made official by decree from President Roumen Radev. As head of the SAC, he will be one of the three ex officio members of the SJC, alongside Panov and prosecutor-general Sotir Tsatsarov.
(Palace of Justice in Sofia. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)