Plenary of the Supreme Judicial Council,
Representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office in the Supreme Judicial Council
Re: Statement by Borislav Sarafov, Deputy Prosecutor General and Director of the National Investigative Service
Esteemed members of the Supreme Judicial Council,
On 8 May of this year, the Bulgarian News Agency published a statement by Borislav Sarafov, Deputy Prosecutor General and Director of the National Investigative Service, which states: “Meanwhile, I would like to stress that most of my colleagues and I believe that the Prosecutor’s Office should leave the political sphere and return to its natural domain: the protection of justice as outlined in its official statute.” Mr. Sarafov’s statements concerning the Prosecutor’s Office’s meddling in the political domain are shared by Bulgarian civic organizations which have been cautioning against this for years.
However, a statement of this kind, made publicly by such a high-ranking magistrate and containing claims that the principles of an independent judiciary, separation of powers, and the rule of law have all been compromised, is unprecedented.
In his public statement, Mr. Sarafov provided specific examples of direct interference by the Prosecutor General, Ivan Geshev, in the proceedings investigating the supposed attempt on his life. According to the statement, the Prosecutor General had ordered that an unknown foreign national, expert in counterterrorism and introduced by Mr. Sarafov’s deputy, Yasen Todorov, was given access to the crime scene. Officials present at the crime scene had complied with Mr. Geshev’s order. Later on, the Prosecutor General himself stated publicly that the foreign expert had shared information with him regarding his findings from the crime scene.
As per the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Judicial Systems Act, the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) provides and defends the independence of the judicial branch of government. As representatives of civic organizations, we believe that the plenary of the SJC should convene an extraordinary meeting to review Mr. Sarafov’s statements, discussing in detail the possible reasons for his claims that the Prosecutor’s Office and the courts are not independent. The SJC should fulfill its legal duties, providing an official answer to the issues raised in Mr. Sarafov’s statement.
Furthermore, the representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office within the SJC should focus on this issue immediately in order to provide exhaustive answers. As is well known, the Prosecutor General is not authorized to give orders concerning particular investigations, nor is he legally allowed to decide who should be given or denied access to a crime scene. This case is particularly concerning because actions by the Prosecutor General pertaining to the investigation into the attempt on his life represent a conflict of interests – all the more reason for him to distance himself from the proceedings so as not to interfere with their objectivity.
In addition, representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office in the SJC should also look into the question of why the officials responsible for the investigation had complied with Mr. Geshev’s orders despite its non-existent legal basis.
We believe that the statement contains specific evidence pointing to abuse of power and breach of official duties.
The SJC should answer society’s expectations for good government and supremacy of the law, acting against attempts to capture public institutions.
10 May 2023
The Anti-Corruption Fund Foundation
Bulgarian Lawyers for Human Rights
Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives
Bulgarian Helsinki Committee
Institute for Market Economy