The Anti-corruption Fund Foundation and the Institute for Market Economics have jointly submitted a number of questions to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) for the only candidate for the post Prosecutor General of Bulgaria, Ivan Geshev.
“The public hearing of candidates is an obligatory stage of the selection process, aimed at helping the SJC members select the most appropriate candidate,” said Boyko Stankushev, Director of ACF. “Although there is only one candidate for the post, ACF hopes that the public hearing procedure will be conducted with due care.”
“It is important to ask Mr Geshev questions on behalf of the civil society and various professional and scientific circles. This is what the law dictates. Regrettably, Mr Geshev remains silent on many of the questions,” Mr Stankushev said.
The public hearing will take place on 24th October this year. The Judiciary Act provides for the opportunity of all civil organizations working in the public interest to express views regarding the candidates and submit questions to be posed during the SJC hearing. Scientific organizations and magistrates’ professional organizations have the same right. A number of organizations have already submitted questions and opinions that can be publicly accessed at: www.vss.justice.bg/page/view/9378
“We hope that the only candidate for Prosecutor General will finally address the questions of civil organizations on 24th October, as his stance on them is an important indicator for the future direction of the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office,” Mr Stankushev said.
The full text of the questions posed by ACF and the Institute for Market Economics to Mr Geshev can be seen below. The questions will also be published on the SJC website.
1. In the middle of this year you stated: “I am 99% sure that I will not participate in this race, even if I get nominated, as it will be dirty and muddy. If you roll in the mud, you will get dirty. I do not want to be in the mud, if anyone else does, let them do it.” You also stated: “Magistrates, politicians, and journalists will be bought – for information, for blemishing, for lobbying.” In relation to those statements, what is your true motivation for accepting this nomination? Have you observed or heard of instances of bought magistrates, politicians, and journalists? If yes, has the Prosecutor’s Office taken measures to address the issue?
2. In accordance with ECtHR’s decision on the case of Kolevi v. Bulgaria, the Bulgarian authorities are currently preparing to adopt legislative measures aimed at overcoming the legislative and institutional deficits in the structure of the Prosecutor’s Office. What, in your opinion, should be the mechanism for guaranteeing an effective, independent, and sufficiently transparent investigation in cases of allegations of crimes committed by a sitting Chief Prosecutor? Will you support the enforcement of the measures for effective investigation and accountability of the Prosecutor General, suggested in the 2016 Independent Analysis of the Structural and Functional Model of Bulgaria’s Prosecutor’s Office?
3. Do you agree with the assessment of the Venice Commission, expressed in its 2017 Opinion , regarding the need for substantial reforms in the current model of the Prosecutor’s Office, and especially with the Commission’s statement that “the ex-socialist states have an institutional legacy of powerful prosecution systems that jeopardize the independence of the judiciary”? Will you support the adoption of the measures for effective investigation and potential impeachment of the Prosecutor General, proposed by the Venice Commission, among which are: the investigation of crimes committed by the Prosecutor General shall be conducted by an independent person or body, empowered to collect and analyze facts and evidence independently of the Prosecutor’s Office; the SJC members of the Prosecutor’s Office quota and members previously employed in the Prosecutor’s Office shall not have a majority to block impeachment votes; the required majority for an SJC decision to advise the President to remove the Prosecutor General shall be decreased?
4. Would you support the initiative to limit the Prosecutor’s Office’s powers of general supervision of legality, as advised in the 2017 Opinion of the Venice Commission (§ 41-43)?
5. During you time as Administrative Head of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office and later as Deputy Prosecutor General you have stated that the Prosecutor’s Office should open up to the public, including by revealing case materials to the media. In this regard:
– Do you believe that the debate for stronger accountability of the Prosecutor’s Office should be revisited by suggesting that the National Assembly (NA) should have the power to request activity reports from the Prosecutor’s Office on its own initiative and even with regards to ongoing cases?;
– Would you take action to initiate a new interpretation of the Constitution, having in mind that in Interpretative Decision No 6/2017 of the Constitutional Court it is explicitly stated that “the National Assembly cannot request a report on the activity of the Prosecutor’s Office from the Prosecutor General with respect to a specific criminal case.” At the same time, the constitutional amendment of December 2015 was justified precisely with the need to increase the accountability of the Prosecutor General?
6. In your manifesto you have, just like the current Prosecution General, envisaged a relationship of collaboration between the Prosecutor’s Office and the media and non-governmental organizations. In the event that you are selected to become Prosecutor General, would you agree to schedule regular hearings where NGOs and the media would have the opportunity to pose you questions? If your response is in the positive, what format would you propose for these hearings?
7. As a lead prosecutor on the CCB case in the Specialized Court (case No 2209/2017), do you think that the person Mr Delyan Slavtchev Peevski should be questioned and in what capacity?
8. The 2018 Annual Report on the Implementation of Legislation and the Activity of the Prosecutor’s Office lists the following reasons for deciding cases with acquittals:
– wrong charges – 26.1% (23.8%; 20.7%) of the total number of final acquittals;
– errors, omissions, or inaction in the course of collecting evidence in the pre-trial phase of the criminal proceedings – 18.7% (20.4%; 14.8%);
The 2018 report also lists the reasons for returning cases to the Prosecutor’s Office, among which are:
– significant violations of the parties’ procedural rights at the pre-trial phase of the proceedings, subject to remedying – 38.7% of all cases returned to prosecutors by courts;
– omissions with regards to the pressed charges identified by courts – 32% of the total number of returned cases.
Do you think that these results can be considered unsatisfactory and will you take responsibility for the work of the Prosecutor’s Office, given your roles as Administrative Head and Deputy Prosecutor General?
In the event that you are selected to become Prosecutor General, what specific measures will you take to improve the cited results?
9. According to the latest report of the European Commission for the Efficiency of Justice in the Council of Europe Member States (CEPEJ) , Bulgaria has the highest number of prosecutors per 100,000 citizens, falling at a coefficient of 21.3 compared with a 11.7 average for all assessed countries. The report also states that Bulgarian prosecutors have the lowest workload – a coefficient of 1.8 in view of a 3.1 average. Bulgaria also has the highest number of assistance personnel – the coefficient is 40.5. In view of the above, what measures will you take to improve the efficiency of the Bulgarian Prosecutor’s Office?