The judges college of Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council voted on February 18 to open a disciplinary inquiry into Specialized Criminal Court judge Andon Mitalov, the subject of a ban on entering the United States because of what the State Department alleges to be involvement in “significant corruption”.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the ban on February 5.
The decision by the SJC judges college was taken behind closed doors, in a seven to four vote after a three-hour meeting, Bulgarian National Television said.
Justice Minister Danail Kirilov has asked the SJC to dismiss Mitalov, saying that the judge had undermined the prestige of the judiciary.
On February 11, the SJC asked Kirilov to provide proof why Mitalov should be dismissed. The SJC was reluctant to proceed, saying that Kirilov’s accusations were vague.
The Justice Ministry said that Kirilov had provided this proof at the close of last week.
Mitalov was the first Bulgarian whose barring from the US was announced under a new law, while the US embassy has said that he will not be the last and that the announcement of further names is forthcoming.