The first part of Bivol’s interview with the investigator from the Investigation Department of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office (SSPO) prompted a reaction from the Prosecutor General, who turned to the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) with a request to conduct a probe. Here is the full statement of the prosecution:
On February 19, 2016, Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov sent a letter to the members of the Supreme Judicial Council. The letter proposes to SJC members, according to their competence, to carry out a full probe into the claims of the investigator from the Investigation Department of the Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office, Boyko Atanasov, voiced in an interview for a site on February 18, 2016. Investigator Boyko Atanasov alleges there is unequal workload of investigators and disciplinary proceedings against prosecutors and investigators who do not obey the orders of the Prosecutor General, which is “something already common in the structure”. There are also claims of existing “cases against ministers – unknown perpetrators, against a Prime Minister. He may be in them too… These are secrets that are used when the moment for important events around the judicial reform approaches… This is a small, dirty secret that exists at the present moment in the prosecution.”
Bivol is also checking reports that after the publication of the first part of the interview with Boyko Atanasov, a probe in his work in the last four years had been launched with the speed of light. The press office of the Prosecutor did not reply to our inquiry whether there is such probe and when it started.
Here is the second part of the interview with Boyko Atanasov:
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Boyko Atanasov: In May, on the day of the visit of Ms. Monica Macovei in Bulgaria, I attended the meeting with her, which was held at the Hilton Hotel. I am not aware of anyone from the prosecution attending, from the Bulgarian! Prosecutor’s Office. They may have been people from other prosecutor’s offices. The lady had come to tell us how we can have a normal and functioning Prosecutor’s Office and overcome dependency from its current leadership. On the same day I was assigned three pre-trial proceedings, with successive case numbers – 164, 165, 166 – on the same day, in one second, at 3:20:39 p.m. This is a second that can trigger the envy even of Hollywood producers. That same second lasted a long time. It lasted around half an hour. To be possible to assign to me these three cases. Neither mathematically nor logically speaking, with a staff of 80-90 investigators, three cases can be assigned to one of them in sequence. However, the Ethics Commission does not think so. The Ethics Commission, represented by its Chairman, responded somewhere in the middle of September, on September 12. An extensive probe was carried out by the city prosecutor. He is the one… against whom I wrote. But it was done by him, not by the SJC. Not by the Inspectorate. In connection with my signal, which exposes alleged breach of the principle of random allocation of cases, the probe established that the assignment of the said three pre-trial proceedings could not have taken place at the same time, but could be done in certain periods of time. However, it is not specified what periods of time. As the saying goes: We passed the ball, with a smooth pass. We sent it to the public prosecutor. He wrote that in fact it did not happen in one second; it happened in different periods of time, it is not clear what periods of time because there must be a record from which one can find out. And Yassen Todorov, who, if the SJC ceases to exist in its current form, should return to his job as an investigator and subordinate to City Prosecutor, Hristo Dinev, because he is an investigator in the Investigation Department of the City Prosecutor’s Office has decided that this is actually a different period time. It is not specified what period it is. If it happened in a different period of time, it should be, respectively, reflected in the system. It is not. This means a manipulation of the system, violations of the random selection and allocation, and what can I say? Chaos. Someone is not complying – we overwhelm them with cases.
Bivol: Why are you challenging the activities of the Prosecutor General?
Boyko Atanasov: Because there are texts that are important for investigators and prosecutors regarding the collection of evidence. The techniques for gathering evidence are among the most important – the questioning of witnesses and of the accused. Like in all other actions, their mechanism is provided in the Penal Code, Articles 238 to 241 that indicate how the investigator can collect this evidence, including with video, as you are currently recording this thing with sound. These are methods that can be used by the investigator, but also the prosecutor and the investigating police officer. They have been in place for a very long time.
These methods are not used
We only see them in the movies. On cable television when we watch foreign films. In Bulgaria this way of working is unknown to investigators. I know that equipment must be bought. Yes, but equipment was purchased solely for prizes, this is what I know, from decrees from December 29 which are published on the internal website of the prosecution; they show that all file-keepers who are in the Office of the Prosecutor have received awards. They bought expensive phones for them. They bought them for all associates who work with the Prosecutor General. But all those who should investigate, are not armed with such a technology; there is no created organization of technicians to support the work of the investigators and the prosecutor to be able to perform their activities. This is necessary because, I am telling you that from a practical standpoint. When it comes to important questioning of important witnesses, which is related to the clarification of many circumstances, writing is laborious and takes almost a whole day to do an interview. As you now, if you had listened to me, and then writing on paper, it would take lots of time. This is why these methods for gathering evidence have been created. In order to document everything in the case. To be unambiguous and clear in Court. For tomorrow, when the verdict is read to show that things were exactly as they appear on paper. This is missing.
Early in the term in office of the Honorable Prosecutor General Tsatsarov, another colleague and I, we provided this sort of information to him; we approached him officially, and we have provided a letter to the heads of the Investigation Department, those before Petio Velkov Petrov, and we only asked to work in normal conditions, to use all means under the Penal Code, including these. This happened on February 22, 2013, three years ago, right? Nothing has been done until now, no action in this direction. This is a systematic breach of duty under Chapter Six of the Law on the Judiciary. I think that the SJC shall examine this thing. It shall see if the Prosecutor General has done his job. Why hasn’t he done it? Why hadn’t he asked his deputies or someone else to do it? These are all simple things related to his work discipline, he did not do them. But he rewarded his secretaries with phones.
Equipment for work is not bought, but all secretaries have nice, shiny little phones
which is probably very good for them. I congratulate them.
Bivol: Yes, this is very indicative, but what exactly do you expect as reaction from the SJC?
Boyko Atanasov: From this SJC, and especially from the Ethics Commission, it is hard for me to expect something. However, I am a magistrate, and after all we have a SJC, which is the highest authority in the judiciary and I have nowhere else to turn to. I can hardly turn to the Holy Synod… There is no other body.
(To be continued)
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