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Anti-Corruption in Bulgaria: the Role of Judiciary and the Law Enforcement Institutions

Round table
October 18, 2002
Center for the Study of Democracy

On October 18, 2002, a discussion on the Anti-Corruption in Bulgaria: the Role of Judiciary and the Law Enforcement Institutions was held in the Center for the Study of Democracy.

Ms. Eva Joly, investigating magistrate who is worldwide recognized for her outstanding contribution to the fight against corruption in France, Mr. Anton Stankov, Minister of Justice of Bulgaria, Ms. Nelly Koutzkova, Chair of Sofia District Court, Gen. Boyko Borissov, Secretary General of the Ministry of Interior and Mr. Christo Manchev, Deputy Prosecutor General presented their views and discussed the topic with Bulgarian government officials, law enforcement agencies officers, judges, prosecutors, investigators and representatives of non-governmental organizations participating in the Coalition 2000 anti-corruption process and the Judicial Reform Initiative.

In his speech Minister Stankov stressed on the necessity to amend the Constitution as far as the prosecutors' immunity is concerned because the magistrates do not need immunity but rather better work conditions and better remuneration. Such amendment will also provide for a greater transparency in the work of the judiciary.

In her speech Ms. Joly pointed out that the fight against corruption and money laundering was very difficult in all countries, not only in recent new democracies, but also in countries with old democracies and stable institutions like France, Italy and even Norway, because all criminal law systems since the Code of Hammurabi were built up to track thieves and were not oriented towards the elite. The testimony which is very important in the American, the Anglo-Saxon and the Roman law was made to tell: "I saw the thief stealing" while in the economic crimes there are not testimonies nor witnesses because it is a secret, hidden criminality.

That is why it is indispensable to inverse the burden of the proof in economic offence matters, Ms. Joly added. At present the French prosecutors only have to prove that one person is related to organized crime. If this is proven, the person has to explain where the money comes from. In Ms. Joly's opinion, if France is able to do that so should Bulgaria. This would mean that if one person is suspected of corruption or any other economic crime s/he should be able to explain where the money comes from and this will make prosecution much easier.

Judge Joly also focused on the image of Bulgaria as to economic crime. Bulgaria has signed the OECD Convention on Fighting Bribery of Foreign Officials in Transnational Business Transactions and has adopted new laws, correspondent to the European legislation, but it is also true that implementation of these laws is not good enough. It is also known from the work that is being done by the Center for the Study of Democracy and Coalition 2000 that the perception of the problem is very important and the majority of the Bulgarians think that they live in a very corrupt country. International investors would not take their decisions based on these numbers but would ask for the opinion of the international business community, i.e. Bulgaria has an important problem with its image and it has to do even more to demonstrate that it fights against corruption and is becoming a transparent country.

Ms. Joly suggested that in order for Bulgaria to prove that it is doing something against corruption it has to do something important for the judicial system. The first thing is to improve the budget of the judicial system because at present it is only 1/10 of the budget of the judiciary in the European member-states. With this very little budget allocated to the justice they are not capable of carrying out difficult cases. It is also important to have competent police making the investigation, good prosecutors and good judges because it does not make sense to have good investigations if one cannot rely on the judges at the end. In conclusion Ms. Joly said that more transparency, more means to the justice and one new law making the proof of economic crime easier are needed and all these measures could be done at once because they are not expensive but would make life easier for the Bulgarian prosecutors.

Mr. Christo Manchev presented the position of the General Prosecutor's Office dwelling on the possibility to investigate ministers, state officials and magistrates who have committed crimes related to corruption. Mr. Manchev reminded that in the last two years the Prosecution of Cassation has investigated 11 ministers, among them 3 deputy prime ministers. Accusations against 6 of these persons have been submitted to the courts as well as against 7 deputy ministers and 3 MPs.

In her speech Ms. Nelly Koutzkova insisted on prevention measures to counter corruption. She suggested the introduction of competition for selecting magistrates in order to ensure that people who are too close to the executive power would not be admitted to the judiciary. Ms. Koutzkova also suggested the establishment of a court for magistrates and an internal unit to investigate corruption within the judiciary.

Mr. Boyko Borissov emphasized on the good cooperation between the police, the prosecution and the investigation in the last several months. But he also admitted that most of the units within the Ministry of Interior are still affected by corruption practices.

See the agenda
Speech of Judge Eva Joly
See Media Coverage of the Discussion (Available in Bulgarian Only)

Judge Eva Joly

(biographical data)

Eva Joly has been an investigating magistrate in France for seven years. Her legal career started as an assistant to the public prosecutor in the town of Orleans. After working for a time in the ministry of finance where she handled bankruptcies, Joly rejoined the magistrature, focusing on financial crime. She started investigating high-profile cases such as the state-owned Credit Lyonnais, which had incurred staggering losses of billions of dollars through mismanagement.

Joly is seen as the leader of a new breed of judges who have not been afraid of calling to account crooked businessmen and the French political elite. Her team has questioned more than 100 former or serving members of parliament or mayors, six former or current leaders of political parties, and a quarter of the heads of the 40 biggest companies. The number of convictions is still fairly small but includes big players like Pierre Suard, the former head of Alcatel, plus a former Socialist minister, a former Socialist party leader and two former Gaullist mayors.

Her rise to media notoriety began at 6 a.m. on a June morning in 1994 when she ordered the police to enter the Paris premises of Bernard Tapie, business tycoon and cabinet minister under Francois Mitterand, and drag him for questioning with his hands cuffed. It was the first time ever a former minister of the French Republic had received such treatment (Tapie was eventually sentenced to six months in prison on fraud charges).

During the seven-year case against the Elf Aquitaine oil company Eva Joly investigated the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and President of the Constitutional Council (which is the Supreme Court in the country) Roland Dumas for million- dollars abuses. Her team of magistrates has initiated investigations against 30 former ministers and government officials, including the former prime minister of France Alain Juppe.



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