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HomeBalkansBulgaria’s Top Prosecutor Ousted, Stirring Suspicion of Trade-Off

Bulgaria’s Top Prosecutor Ousted, Stirring Suspicion of Trade-Off

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Bulgaria’s top prosecutor, Ivan Geshev, declined to comment on Tuesday on his dismissal by the country’s highest judicial authority, saying only that he would wait for the response of President Rumen Radev, who has the power to veto the decision.

The Supreme Judicial Council voted on Monday to terminate Geshev’s mandate as Prosecutor General over a remark he made in mid-May when, dismissing calls to resign, he referred to “political garbage” in the Bulgarian parliament.

The remark was apparently directed at the once-dominant GERB party of former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov and its ally, the Movement for Rights and Freedoms. 

Geshev was appointed in 2019 under the last GERB government, when he was the sole candidate for the job. His dismissal comes after GERB reached a governing accord with its chief opponents, the pro-reform We Continue the Change, prompting speculation of a trade-off over the judiciary.

Geshev had been heavily criticised by civil society and opponents of GERB for a lack of progress in a number of high-profile cases, including the suspected Novichok poisoning of arms dealer Emiliyan Gebrev in 2015; he remained largely silent in the face of myriad allegations against Borissov and his allies concerning corruption and money-laundering and opted not to investigate a number of politicians sanctioned by the US in 2021 and this year for alleged corruption.

In late May, however, Geshev ordered prosecutors to look into allegations of money-laundering against Borissov in an affair dubbed ‘Barcelonagate’ by Bulgarian media. He also sought the lifting of parliamentary immunity held by Kiril Petkov, leader of We Continue the Change, over allegations he held dual Canadian-Bulgarian citizenship in 2021 when he became an interim cabinet minister. 

Petkov and Borissov have just set aside their deep differences to form a government and avert yet another snap election.

Speaking from Strasbourg, Geshev told Bulgarian media: “I will wait for President Radev’s decree on my dismissal… and whatever I have to say, I will say when I’m back in Bulgaria.” 

Opponents of GERB have long seen Geshev as a symbol of the deep-rooted corruption in Bulgaria, but some fear his downfall may only be part of a cynical political trade-off, rather than the start of real judicial reform.

“This is a bitter victory,” lawyer Adela Katchaounova wrote on social media in a comment picked up by Dnevnik.bg.

“Geshev simply ceased being convenient to a certain circle, mainly to GERB, but also to the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, who now disowned him and as a result, we quickly came to this situation,” wrote Katchaounova. “It is a mere coincidence that the democratic part of society and the independent members of the Supreme Judicial Council also want his removal.”

Source : BalkanInsight

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