Bulgarian MPs passed amendments to the country’s Penal Procedure Code that would abolish the use of “fast track” trial proceedings in premeditated murder cases. The amendments were approved at second reading on October 9, with 92 votes in favour, 62 opposed and 11 abstentions.
The fast track trial process was introduced in Bulgarian law to reduce the case backlog, offering accused in trials the option of having a reduced sentence (by one-third), if they confessed to committing the crime for which they were on trial.
But in recent months, there has been some public backlash against the provision, after several murder cases that received extensive attention from Bulgarian media, in which perpetrators used the fast track trial proceedings to reduce their sentences by several years.
The bill also initially envisioned that crimes that resulted in grievous bodily harm would likewise not be subject to fast track trial proceedings, but that provision was dropped between first and second reading.
This prompted sharp criticism from the main opposition party, the socialists, during the debate that preceded the vote, with the party’s MPs arguing that all serious crimes should be excluded from the fast track trial proceedings.
(Bulgarian Parliament photo: parliament.bg)