Bulgaria’s Parliament appointed 11 members of the country’s next Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) on September 20, which concluded the election of the council’s next line-up, which will serve a term of five years, during which it will handle all judiciary appointments. A further 11 members have been elected by the different branches of the judiciary over the previous several months, while three ex officio members bring the council’s total numbers to 25 members.
In total, 18 candidates were nominated by parliamentary parties to fill the legislative quota, with Parliament’s legal affairs committee holding a hearing on September 7 to give the candidates an opportunity to make their cases. The committee’s MPs, however, spent just over four hours on the hearing, at which the nominees were given just 10 minutes each, with little cross-questioning from the MPs, news website Mediapool.bg reported at the time.
According to the same publication, the major parliamentary parties brokered a behind-the-scenes deal that would result in the election of four nominees put forth by GERB, the majority partner in Bulgaria’s ruling coalition; three for the largest opposition party, the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP); and two apiece for the minority ruling partner, the United Patriots, and the opposition Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF), with the smallest party in Parliament, Volya, ignored in this distribution.
The outcome of the votes in Parliament gave credence to the reports, as the 11 new SJC members elected by MPs followed the breakdown suggested by Mediapool. All of them were elected with overwhelming majorities, well above the 160 votes needed to confirm the appointment, but with no debate on the House floor.
The 11 members of the next SJC elected by Parliament will fill six spots on the council’s judges college and five spots in the prosecutors college.
Going to the judges college are Boyan Magdalinchev (deputy head of the Supreme Administrative Court, nominated by GERB), Veronika Imova (Supreme Court of Cassation judge, GERB), Daniela Marinova-Marcheva (Sofia Appellate Court, BSP), Dragomir Koyadjikov (Specialised Court of Appeals, BSP), Boyan Novanski (lawyer, United Patriots) and Stefan Grozdev (Sofia Appellate Court commercial college chief, MRF).
Joining them in the new SJC’s judges college will be six members elected by judges in June, with four of them from the Supreme Court of Cassation – Tsvetinka Pashkunova, Krassimir Shekerdjiev, Olga Kerelska and Sevdalin Mavrov – as well as Supreme Administrative Court judge Atanaska Disheva and the head of the Bourgas district court, Boryana Dimitrova.
The heads of the two high courts – the Supreme Court of Cassation (Lozan Panov) and Supreme Administrative Court (Georgi Kolev, with Georgi Cholakov elected to succeed him but not formally appointed yet) – are members of the SJC and its judges college ex officio.
Going to the prosecutors college from the legislative quota are Gergana Moutafova (Plovdiv prosecutor, GERB), Kalina Chapkunova-Kyuchoukova (Bourgas district prosecutor, GERB), Yordan Stoev (Sofia deputy appellate prosecutor, United Patriots), Svetlana Boshnakova (Supreme Prosecution of Cassation, BSP) and Plamena Apostolova (head of Sofia City Court investigative magistrates department, MRF).
They will be joined by four members elected by prosecutors in June – Pernik district prosecutor Plamen Naidenov, Bourgas appellate prosecutor Georgi Kouzmanov, Supreme Prosecution of Cassation prosecutor Daniela Masheva and Razgrad prosecutor Ognyan Damyanov. Investigative magistrates, who are entitled to elect one member of SJC on the prosecutors college, chose the head of the National Investigative Service, Evgeni Dikov, in May.
Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov is a member of the SJC and the prosecutors college ex officio.
The current council’s term, which was plagued by numerous controversies (though no outright corruption row as with the council’s line-up that preceded it) expires next month.