Subcommittee at LIBE discusses pressure on Bulgarian state prosecution

The achievements of the Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office in cases of high public and media interest, as well as the "challenges, which state prosecution faces in the context of increased political and media pressure" were discussed at a session of Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group of the European Parliament.

This was announced by the Prosecutor's Office, as they also pointed out that the discussion was organised by the European Parliament on the proposal of the Bulgarian Prosecutor General. The Rule of Law Group is a subcommittee at European Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE).

On the Bulgarian side, the forum was attended by Ekaterina Zaharieva - Foreign Minister of Bulgaria, Deputy Minister of Justice Desislava Ahladova, Deputy Prosecutor General Krassimira Filipova, the head of the Commission for Protection against Discrimination Ana Dzhumalieva and NGOs.

"According to the Constitution, the Prosecutor's Office is unified, but not centralised. The only submission of the prosecutors is the submission to the laws. Prosecutors are not in a hierarchical relationship with neither the Prosecutor General, nor with their administrative heads. They are free to take decisions according to their inner belief, regardless of which person they refer to, and these decisions cannot be controlled by the Prosecutor General," the Deputy Prosecutor General Krassimira Filipova explained during the discussion.

Only three weeks ago, the Council of Prosecutors at the Supreme Judicial Council in Bulgaria issued a declaration condemning "the ongoing malicious attacks against the Bulgarian Prosecutor's Office, the attempts for grave violations of the independence and reputation of Bulgarian magistrates, the violation of the law, the principle of separation of powers and attempts for political pressure." The reason for this declaration was a publication on the website of the Bulgarian section of Free Europe, which is occupied by personnel of the indicted oligarch-publisher Ivo Prokopiev, as well as a statement by the leader of Yes Bulgaria party, who is associated to him - Hristo Ivanov.

Both the material and the statement were directed against Sofia City Prosecutor Boryana Betsova, as the prosecutors at the Supreme Judicial Council stressed that they were biased in their nature and they present continuation of "Hristo Ivanov's systematic and targeted attempts for political pressure on the independence of the Prosecutor’s Office." The declaration was spread to all the European institutions, including the European Parliament.

At the same time, only one media representative was allowed to participate in yesterday's closed session - a journalist from the website with ties to Kremlin propaganda - Bivol, as well as representatives of NGOs associated with the Capital circle of Ivo Prokopiev such as the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee. It is not clear yet by whose decision only these representatives of the media and the NGO sector were admitted to the forum.

The sub-committee has 14 MEPs, as none of them is Bulgarian. After the meeting, one of the members of the sub-committee, Sophie in 't Veld stated that the group would continue to monitor the development of the fight against corruption in Bulgaria and they would send additional questions to the participants because they did not have the opportunity to "go into details" in the topic. She also pointed out that next month the European Commission will present its first annual report on the rule of law in all the Member States.

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