Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council is to request, through the Foreign Ministry, information from the US State Department regarding the barring of Specialized Criminal Court judge Andon Mitalov from entering the US.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the ban on February 5, alleging that Mitalov was involved in “significant corruption”. Mitalov has declined to comment.
The Supreme Judicial Council judges college held a special meeting on February 6, deciding unanimously after 10 minutes of discussions to put the request for information to the State Department.
The council also will seek information from the Supreme Judicial Council Inspectorate, the Prosecutor-General’s office and the anti-corruption commission.
After receiving the information requested, the judges will decide whether to summon Mitalov for a hearing.
Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said on February 6 that the State Department announcement about Mitalov was “by no means against the interests of Bulgaria”.
She said that the US and Bulgaria had held their first high-level strategic dialogue in early January.
“After they announced this name, that means the American authorities must have had a reason,” Zaharieva said.
Prime Minister Boiko Borissov said that he did not want to comment.
“When they saw a person with charges agains him, in Moscow and receiving an honour, they must have asked questions, and maybe that’s where the whole thing comes from. I don’t want to know, nor to comment – one thing, it is the business of the US, they have their law, the other thing is a ruling by a Bulgarian judge – he’s independent, that’s what he decided.”
Borissov was referring to Mitalov’s ruling last year allowing Russophile Movement head Nikolai Malinov, who is accused to espionage, to travel to Moscow to receive an honour from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Mitalov’s ruling was referred by the Prosecutor-General to the Supreme Judicial Council Inspectorate. On February 6, it was announced that the inspectorate had decided, after a preliminary investigation, not to proceed with a formal investigation.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)