Lawyer Adela Kachaunova: The election of Sarafov as Acting Chief Prosecutor contradicts the Constitution and further undermines the prestige of the judiciary.
Today, June 16, 2023, the Prosecutors' Collegium of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) elected Borislav Sarafov as Acting Chief Prosecutor. This happened just a day after the President signed a decree dismissing Ivan Geshev from the position.
However, the Prosecutors' Collegium of the SJC does not have the authority to choose the Chief Prosecutor. This is an illegitimate exercise of power. The Chief Prosecutor of the Republic is elected by the plenum of the SJC, which then sends a proposal to the President for his appointment. This procedure should be applied analogously to the selection of an acting Chief Prosecutor.
The Prosecutors' Collegium has the power to appoint, promote, demote, transfer, and dismiss regular prosecutors, and there is no reason for this relaxed procedure to be applied to the highest position in the prosecution. The prescribed procedure in the Judiciary Act for the appointment of a deputy administrative head cannot serve as a basis for the selection of Borislav Sarafov as an acting Chief Prosecutor. This is due to the specific powers of the Chief Prosecutor and the absence of legislation regarding the premature dismissal of the Chief Prosecutor. The Judiciary Act cannot be seen as amending the Constitution and creating a relaxed regime for the selection of the Chief Prosecutor since it does not regulate the hypothesis of the premature dismissal of the Chief Prosecutor at all.
In this way, the Prosecutors' Collegium exceeded the authority it has under the Constitution and circumvented the few guarantees for the selection of a person with high professional and moral qualities for this position.
The events from May 1, 2023, until this moment have convinced society that a significant portion of the members of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) are not independent, with this being particularly true for the members of the Prosecutors' Collegium. Through their contradictory and non-transparent actions in recent weeks, they have shown their dependence on the political will of their hidden masters. After long neglecting the opinions of civil society about Geshev's unsuitability for the position of Chief Prosecutor, they suddenly acknowledged this unsuitability only after Maria Gabriel's statement that her first act as Prime Minister would be to request Geshev's resignation. Immediately after that, they submitted a request for his dismissal, which they later withdrew without sharing their motives for their actions. Despite the prolonged debates in the SJC plenum, suspicions about the political involvement of the members of the Prosecutors' Collegium have only grown stronger.
The appointment of the new Chief Prosecutor happened without debates regarding his qualities and without addressing the abundant signals about Borislav Sarafov's connections with the scandalously notorious lawyer Petyo Petrov from the Vidin Bar Association, known by his nickname "Petyo Evroto". Additionally, the Prosecutors' Collegium did not examine the reasons for the National Investigative Service, headed by Sarafov, to have delayed investigations into corruption cases involving high-ranking officials, nor did they request information about the acquired assets of his close relatives, as reported by the media.
The period of Ivan Geshev's leadership has caused intolerance in society towards the political dependence of representatives of the judicial authority. Therefore, the appointment of Sarafov as Chief Prosecutor, despite numerous signals of compromised personal integrity, only confirms suspicions of serious political interference. In this way, the independence of the judicial authority is not achieved, and its prestige remains eroded.
Due to the above, we call on all individuals and institutions empowered to do so by the Constitution to refer to the Constitutional Court with a request for an interpretation of whether the provision of Article 168, paragraph 7 of the Judiciary Act is applicable to the appointment of the acting Chief Prosecutor and how its application in the current case corresponds to the powers of the Prosecutors' Collegium of the Supreme Judicial Council according to Article 129, paragraph 1, and Article 130a, paragraph 2, item 7 of the Constitution.