Prosecutors’ association accuses an Ivo Prokopiev media outlet in attempting to discredit the Prosecutor’s Office
Purposeful insinuations have been made that the professional community “obligingly” expressed support for Ivan Geshev’s prosecutor-general candidacyMonitor News Agency
The Association of Bulgarian Prosecutors (ABP) recently came out with a statement in defence of Specialised Prosecutor’s Office member Silvia Solkolova, who became the target of manipulative claims in an article published in a media outlet owned by the indicted businessmen Ivo Prokopiev. Said article, published in the weekly newspaper Capital, cites a comment made by Prosecutor Sokolova six years ago, taking it out of context in a bid to discredit the support that the employees of the two specialised prosecutor’s offices expressed for the nomination of Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev to take over the soon-to-be-vacated top position.
On Monday Geshev himself released a statement, in which he expressed support for Prosecutor Sokolova, noting that “the concerted effort to demonise certain magistrates such as Prosecutor Silvia Sokolova … will be met with resistance in every possible way permitted by the law”.
The ABP is protesting the article’s dismissive and mocking treatment of the support shown for Ivan Geshev’s nomination by hundreds of prosecutors around the country and their colleagues from the investigative authorities and the judicial system as a whole. “We believe that this is more than a simple case of publicly misrepresented information, but actually a purposeful attempt to suggest to the (Bulgarian) public that the professional community of prosecutors in the country ‘obligingly’ expressed support for Geshev as if ordered to do so. This is not only a violation of the principle of independence of the judicial branch of power, but a serious and dangerous threat to the constitutional foundation of rule of law,” the association’s statement notes.
The ABP also insists that the Prosecutors’ College (PC) with the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) come out with a position on the article published in the indicted Ivo Prokopiev’s media outlet: “On the grounds of the ‘Mechanism for public reaction of the PC with the SJC in the event that the independence and good name of prosecutors and investigators are being undermined’ (adopted with a resolution of the PC with the SJC dated 20 March 2019), we hereby urge the PC with the SJC to exercise its powers and take a stance on the case.”
Co-publisher of Capital, Ivo Prokopiev is a defendant in an ongoing case at the Specialised Criminal Court stemming from the privatisation of the remaining 33% state-owned stake in the electricity distribution company EVN. Prokopiev is also being investigated by the Specialised Prosecutor’s Office in relation to other suspected wrongdoings.
Below is the full text of the Association of Bulgarian Prosecutors’ statement:
Dear colleagues and members of the PC with the SJC,
A Capital Weekly publication from 2 August 2019 entitled Carrot and Stick for Nomination of Geshev argues that our colleague Silvia Sokolova, prosecutor with the Specialised Prosecutor’s Office, in her capacity as a witness in a 2013 disciplinary procedure against the late SJC member Kamen Sitnilski, testified that she does not remember an instance in which “someone ignored a verbal instruction or request by their superior” in the time she had been a prosecutor.
The abovementioned article gives said testimony as an example of the practice of senior administrative officials forcing prosecutors, investigators and representatives of the Prosecutor’s Office of the Republic of Bulgaria (PORB) to express positions on certain matters in blatant violation of the latter’s independence and right to express their own opinion. The article continues with a clear insinuation that the overwhelming public support for the candidacy of Ivan Geshev demonstrated by the prosecutors’ guild was not a spontaneous “idea”, but was rather secured through the implicit promise of some sort of immunity and guarantees for career advancement for “quite a few” of the prosecutors who signed off on it.
We, the members of the Management Board (MB) of the ABP, openly state our personal support for Prosecutor Sokolova in this unjustified impairment of her good name and our unreserved defence of the prestige of the prosecutors’ guild from such wrongful media attacks. The ABP strongly condemns all forms of such media pressure as an attempt to damage and discredit the PORB. As the professional organisation of the prosecutors in the Republic of Bulgaria, we, the members of the MB of the ABP express our strong disapproval of such wrongful public suggestions and reject such unwarranted media provocations. Moreover, we believe that this is more than a simple case of publicly misrepresented information, but actually a purposeful attempt to suggest to the (Bulgarian) public that the professional community of prosecutors in the country “obligingly” expressed support for Geshev as if ordered to do so. This is not only a violation of the principle of independence of the judicial branch of power, but a serious and dangerous threat to the constitutional foundation of rule of law.
This is why, on the grounds of the “Mechanism for public reaction of the PC with the SJC in the event that the independence and good name of prosecutors and investigators are being undermined” (adopted with a resolution of the PC with the SJC dated 20 March 2019), we hereby urge the PC with the SJC to exercise its powers and take a stance on the case.