Bulgarian President Roumen Radev said on February 10 that he had vetoed amendments to the country’s Penal Procedure Code, passed by Parliament last month, which envision the appointment of a special prosecutor with the authority to investigate the top ranks of the prosecutor’s office.
In his veto motives, Radev said that he vetoed the bill in its entirety, arguing that it did not “offer a just and sustainable solution to the problem of lacking effective investigation of the Prosecutor-General or Deputy Prosecutor-General.”
He said that the new position would breach several key constitutional principles, including the independence of the courts, the independence of the prosecutor’s office within the judiciary and the principle that all are equal under law.
Radev’s motives noted that the bill was the third attempt by the current government coalition to address the issue that the country’s prosecutor-general can shut down any investigation against themselves by using their oversight powers granted by law.
The first two attempts had been submitted to the Venice Commission, the Council of Europe’s advisory body on constitutional matters, which did not fully endorse the proposals, Radev’s statement said.
In all three cases, the bills did not seek an in-depth public discussion with stakeholders inside Bulgaria and the latest bill was also heavily amended compared to the initial proposal, Radev said.
Bulgaria’s constitution grants the head of state a limited power of veto, through enabling the President to return legislation to the National Assembly for further discussion. The National Assembly may overturn the President’s veto through a simple majority vote or accept the veto and review the vetoed clauses.
Since taking office in January 2017, Radev made liberal use of this power. This was his 28th vetoed bill, with Parliament overturning the veto on all but three occasions – two cases when the provisions in question were withdrawn and one instance where the government coalition failed to muster the support needed to overturn the veto.
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