Bulgaria former caretaker health minister acquitted
Bulgarian former caretaker Health Minister Ilko Semerdjiev has been acquitted by the Supreme Court of Cassation on charges that he threatened to fire a top official unless she made an appointment Semerdjiev wanted.
The decision by the high court, the last appeal instance in this case, was issued on January 15 and was final. In its ruling, the court said that the accusation was flawed from the start, as Semerdjiev could not be indicted under the Penal Code article cited by the prosecutor’s office.
In the case in question, prosecutors argued that Semerdjiev used threats to force the head of the state executive agency for medicines to appoint a specific individual as deputy agency head.
But the court said that the Penal Code article only applied when individuals outside the state administration’s chain of command attempted to impede public officials from execution of their duty. Semerdjiev, as the direct superior of the agency head, was already part of the decision-making regarding the appointment of a deputy director.
Furthermore, Semerdjiev’s statement that he could fire the agency head should be taken in the context of the entire conversation, in which the agency head had said earlier that the caretaker minister should fire her because she had no intention to make the appointment.
Under these conditions, Semerdjiev’s words should not be interpreted as a threat, since it would have been entirely within his remit to fire the agency head for refusing to carry out their duties, the court said.