Bulgaria’s Government held a special sitting at the weekend to discuss and approve a bill of amendments to the Penal Procedure Code, which would create an inspectorate for the prosecutor’s office, while its head would have the powers to investigate the prosecutor-general and deputy prosecutor-generals.
For decades, Bulgaria has been criticised for keeping the communist-era structure of the prosecutor’s office, where the top officials could not be independently investigated, because they had the authority to shut down any investigation into any alleged criminal activity.
The bill creating the prosecutor’s office inspectorate is aimed to address such criticism and “creates the legal guarantees” that the prosecutor-general or a deputy prosecutor-general could not interfere in investigations against them, the Cabinet media office said in a statement.
Under these amendments, the head of the inspectorate would be appointed for a period of seven years by a two-thirds majority of the prosecutors college in the Supreme Judicial Council and would require to be nominated by at least three members of the college.
To dismiss the prosecutor in charge of the inspectorate, the same conditions apply – such a proposal must come from three members of the SJC prosecutors college and would require a two-thirds majority, or eight out of 12 members.
The bill has already come under criticism, as opponents have questioned whether the amendments did not contradict the constitution, which says in article 126 that “the Prosecutor General shall exercise supervision as to legality and shall provide methodological guidance regarding the work of all prosecutors.”
Additionally, critics have said that the prosecutor-general has too much influence over the election of the members of the SJC prosecutor college, pointing out the unwavering support that outgoing Prosecutor-General Sotir Tsatsarov has received from the college over the years.