Bulgaria’s SJC rejects request to sack Prosecutor-General Geshev

Bulgaria’s Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) rejected the formal request to dismiss Ivan Geshev as Prosecutor-General late on July 7, with 16 members voting against and two in favour.

Justice Minister Nadezhda Yordanova tabled the request in March, citing the constitutional provision that allows magistrates to be sacked for “serious infringement or systematic neglect of their official duties, as well as actions damaging the prestige of the judiciary.”

Yordanova’s request included several items of evidence, arguing that Geshev’s “actions and inaction” since taking office in December 2019 were sufficient grounds for his dismissal.

The SJC debate preceding the vote also included the separate evidence of alleged breaches of the magistrates’ code of ethics by Geshev, submitted as the reasons to request his dismissal by former caretaker Justice Minister Yanaki Stoilov in July 2021.

At that time, the SJC rejected Stoilov’s request on the grounds that it was inadmissible, but the Constitutional Court ruled in February that the sitting justice minister can ask the SJC to dismiss the prosecutor-general or the heads of the country’s two high courts.

On July 7, in a debate that lasted more than 12 hours, Geshev repeatedly defended himself saying that he was not responsible for the actions or inaction of his subordinates. He also said that the request for his dismissal was politically motivated.

After the vote, Yordanova said that the Justice Ministry would look into whether the SJC decision could be appealed, which could require a Constitutional Court ruling on the issue, public broadcaster Bulgarian National Radio reported.

The SJC sitting on July 7 was the sixth time the council discussed the request to sack Geshev. In the previous five, held between March 10 and May 18, the SJC repeatedly postponed making a decision on procedural grounds.

(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)

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