BHC: Prosecutor General's Recent Actions Prove Urgent Need for Constitutional Reform
The BHC is strongly concerned about the actions of the Attorney General in recent days. They reiterate to the urgent need to reform the Constitution, which would allow independent investigation of his actions.
Within three days, the Attorney General responded to the expectations and concerns expressed by the legal and human rights community prior to his election.
On January 27, 2020, Mr. Geshev addressed the Constitutional Court asking to provide an abstract, without specific case interpretation of the constitutional norms governing presidential immunity, although these norms are crystal clear. The request of the Attorney General contains an inadmissible and ill-concealed threat to the incumbent head of state. At the same time, the questions and analysis in his request showcase the alarmingly low level of his legal culture. In his public statements after submitting the request to the Constitutional Court the Attorney General explained this action with some possible data that the President had been involved in the commission of an offence and in pre-trial proceedings instituted against him. A day later, the prosecutor's office announced the presence of records made through special investigative means of a conversation between two people, with one claimed to be an "unidentified man who is probably the president. "
On January 29, 2020, the Prosecutor's Office officially "suspended any contact with the Presidency other than formal written correspondence. "
The events of recent days are particularly disturbing, since the disclosure of data collected using special investigative means is a criminal offence under the Penal code. According to the provision of Art. 145a of the Criminal Code:
"(1) Who uses information collected through the use of special intelligence means beyond its intended purpose for the protection of national security or for the purpose of criminal proceedings shall be punished by imprisonment for up to three years and a fine of up to five hundred levs.
(2) when the act was committed by an official who acquired the information or it became known to him within the frame of his office, the penalty is a prison sentence of one to five years and a fine of up to five thousand levs”
The disclosure to the public of partial information from pending criminal proceedings is a manipulative act which destroys the basic principles of criminal law, such as respect of the principle of the presumption of innocence until the final conviction of the court.
The situation raises a number of rhetorical questions, all of which have been asked several times: Who will investigate the Attorney General? Will a prosecutor dare to carry out a preliminary examination to ascertain whether there is at least reason and data for the initiation of pre-trial proceedings? Does it make sense to alert the Prosecutor's office about a crime under article 145A from the Criminal code, committed by the Prosecutor General? If a prosecutor's office is addressed with a similar signal, will it not be used to the detriment of the complainant?
In Bulgaria, it is not possible to independently investigate the actions (or omissions) of the Prosecutor General. Therefore, he can take any actions, including against hypothetically criminal ones. In this case, as a clear threat to the figure of the head of state, who represents the unity of the nation.
We support the President, given the obvious silence of political forces, in his efforts to change the Constitution in the direction of revocation of the Attorney General immunity.
Att. Adela Kachaunova
Legal Program Director of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee (BHC)