Motion to dismiss Geshev as Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General tabled in Supreme Judicial Council

Members of the Prosecutors College of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) have submitted a proposal for Ivan Geshev to be dismissed as Bulgaria’s Prosecutor-General, it emerged on May 12.

The news of the tabling of the proposal came a day after Maria Gabriel, the GERB-UDF coalition’s Prime Minister-designate, pledged to seek Geshev’s dismissal – a move solely within the power SJC, not Parliament.

It also came 12 days after a controversial incident involving a supposed “explosives attack” on Geshev’s car, the circumstances are which are disputed, with the controversy surrounding the matter leading Geshev’s deputy, Borislav Sarafov, to distance himself from him.

The proposal to dismiss Geshev, who began a seven-year term in December 2019, came from the members of the Prosecutors College elected by Parliament.

The motives for the proposal arise from the controversy surrounding the May 1 incident involving Geshev’s car.

The SJC members backing the proposal allege that Geshev’s intervention in the investigation was in breach of the powers of his office.

For the motion to dismiss Geshev to succeed, it must be backed by at least 17 out of the 22 members of the SJC.

Gabriel’s May 11 statement about Geshev was broadly supported by most of the groups in the 49th National Assembly.

Hristo Ivanov of We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, who even before Geshev’s election as Prosecutor-General campaigned against him as unfit for the office, supported Gabriel’s statement as an “important political declaration” but cautioned that reform of the office itself was crucial.

WCC-DB’s Atanas Atanassov said that GERB-UDF and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms were preparing to oust Geshev to replace him with his deputy, Sarafov. WCC-DB previously called for Sarafov to resign over his actions and statements regarding the incident involving Geshev’s car.

Ivanov said that if, for example, someone like the current spokesperson for the office, Siika Mileva, succeeded to the post, there would be no substantial change.

Kostadin Kostadinov, leader of Vuzrazhdane – the third-largest parliamentary group – said that his party had been talking for a long time about removing Geshev and “we are glad that GERB finally started thinking like Vuzrazhdane”. Kostadinov said that Gabriel’s statement was aimed at removing the trump card from the hands of WCC-DB.

Mustafa Karadayi, leader of the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, said on May 11 that Gabriel’s statement was a good one and would be no bar to negotiating with GERB-UDF about a proposed government.

Kornelia Ninova, leader of Parliament’s second-smallest group, the Bulgarian Socialist Party, said that replacing one person with another without changing the system makes no sense.

Parliament’s smallest party, ITN, welcomed Gabriel’s statement as a good sign but doubted the SJC would vote to dismiss him.

Meanwhile, Sarafov has asked the SJC to dismiss Yassen Todorov as deputy head of the National Investigation Service, of which Sarafov is chief.

On May 9, Sarafov told Bulgarian National Radio that he was considering moving for the dismissal of Todorov – a Geshev appointee – because Todorov’s statements to the media had not been coordinated with him or the NIS. Todorov’s statements reflected only his personal opinions, Sarafov said.

President Roumen Radev, speaking during a visit to South Africa, said that Gabriel’s “sudden urge” to demand the removal of Geshev “hardly excites me”.

“Bulgaria lost three years, in which numerous reports of large-scale abuses submitted by the caretaker governments to the Prosecutor’s Office went to waste, corruption was undetected, the sense of justice was crushed, and the political process was stalled,” Radev said

Radev said that when, in 2019, he sent back the SJC proposal to decree the appointment of Geshev as Prosecutor-General, Gabriel’s party had voted unanimously to back Geshev.

“When I asked for the resignation of Ivan Geshev three years ago, Mrs. Gabriel’s party not only supported him, it was in collaboration with him. When two years ago the acting Minister of Justice, appointed by me, requested the removal of Ivan Geshev for the same reasons, the quota of Mrs. Gabriel’s party saved him again unanimously,” Radev said.

Radev said that a “very important question now arises” – whether the request of the GERB-UDF prime ministerial candidate is the result of “a three-year-delayed enlightenment, a sudden catharsis, or a certain interest of the people who stand” behind Gabriel. 

(Photo: Prosecutor’s Office)

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