Temporary Committee on the „Notary“ case: None of the Prosecutors General appeared for hearing

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None of the Prosecutors General appeared at the invitation for a hearing during the meeting of the Temporary Committee for Verification of Facts and Circumstances related to the activities of the group around Martin Bozhanov- The Notary.

It should be recalled that today was scheduled first to hear acting Prosecutor General Borislav Sarafov on data and information about influence groups in the Prosecutor’s Office and measures taken by the leadership of the Prosecutor’s Office. And then his predecessor in the period 2012-2019 – Sotir Tsatsarov.

Yesterday, Ivan Geshev announced that he would be out of the country and would not be present.

The meeting was attended by 13 members of the Committee. They were informed of Sarafov’s position, which reads as follows:

„After my inauguration on 16.06.2023, I undertook a series of actions related to clarifying the objective truth in specific cases that became public already in 2020 and 2021. I am obliged to remind you that it was after I took office that I became aware of the existence of a report on an inspection carried out in July 2020 by the Inspectorate Department of the Supreme Cassation Prosecution Office (SCPO). The report contained findings of „gross violations“ by supervising prosecutors in the two pre-trial proceedings of the Specialized Prosecutor’s Office related to the case, which gained notoriety as „The Eight Dwarfs“ case.

This report was sent to the attention of the Prosecutor General in 2020 without any follow-up actions on his part. In this regard, I instructed a team of prosecutors from the Appellate Prosecutor’s Office in Sofia to inspect all relevant prosecutorial files and pre-trial proceedings. In view of the findings of the probe for numerous violations admitted by the investigators and supervising prosecutors, I made proposals to the prosecutorial panel of the SJC to initiate disciplinary proceedings for imposing a disciplinary penalty against four prosecutors and three investigators. Apart from that, in the case, the actions of an investigation in pre-trial proceedings of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office continue, in which two active prosecutors, as well as the former head of the Investigative Unit of Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, have been brought in as defendants.

At the same time, I would like to take this opportunity to state that I find absolutely unacceptable the comments and accusations against the Bulgarian magistrates, unsupported by facts and evidence, made by some of the MPs in the form of the Temporary Committee chaired by you. In the meetings held so far, magistrates have been publicly humiliated in order to achieve personal, political and other interests. Moreover, some MPs have openly crossed the boundaries of good manners and education.

I am convinced that the institution I represent will provide answers to the questions raised by the public and MPs, and the facts presented in the public space will be verified by means of the criminal process and in compliance with the principles of objectivity, comprehensiveness and completeness of the investigation.

I would like to clarify that according to Art. 84, item 16 of the Constitution, I do not have the authority to provide detailed information on specific files and pre-trial proceedings. This text defines the limits within which the National Assembly can be interested in and intervene in the activities of the prosecutor’s office – by hearing and accepting reports on the implementation of the law, the fight against crime and the implementation of criminal policy. The content of these reports was clarified by Decision No. 6 of the CC of June 6, 2017 under the Code of Criminal Procedure. No. 15/2016. The only way to obtain information from the National Assembly about the activities of the Prosecutor’s Office is through reports on the implementation of the law, which is carried out according to the procedure defined in the CRB, the Judicial System Act (JSA) and the Rules for the Organization and Activities of the National Assembly. There is no set order and rules other than those specified for obtaining information from individual committees of the National Assembly, related only to their activities and aimed at answering specific questions of MPs from these committees.

At the same time, in view of the Law on Amendments and Supplements to the Constitution adopted by the 49th National Assembly, promulgated in State Gazette No. 106 of 22.12.2023, the powers of the Prosecutor General have been limited to a considerable extent and in my capacity as Acting Prosecutor General I have no information on cases and pre-trial proceedings relevant to the subject of the Committee’s activities. Moreover, the current legislation prohibits the disclosure of information on specific pre-trial proceedings without the permission of the relevant supervising prosecutor, and exceptions in this direction are inadmissible, including for the chief prosecutor. I draw attention to the fact that the chief prosecutor has no obligation to control specific files or pre-trial proceedings, and the disclosure of materials from investigations could be subject to criminal liability provided for in Art. 360 of the Criminal Code.

Stressing your respect for the National Assembly as the highest body of power in a parliamentary democracy, you should bear in mind that it is possible that the result of the Committee’s work will be materialized in a report, which in the presence of data on crimes or disciplinary violations by prosecutors and investigators to be sent to the competent authority – the Prosecutor’s Office, in particular to the i.f. Prosecutor General, therefore, in order to avoid any suspicion of bias and possible conflict of interest, I find it necessary to decline the sent invitation to participate in a meeting of the Temporary Committee chaired by you.“

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