The Bulgarian Judges Association has issued a statement on the appointment of Veselin Pengezov as President of the Sofia Appellate Court. Mr. Pengezov was President of the Military Appellate Court, and was accused of corruption four years ago. Some of the evidence against Mr. Pengezov was obtained by special intelligence means.
The judges’ association complains of the current promotion practice of the Bulgarian Supreme Judicial Council (SJC). They believe that this appointment is a “flagrant scandal”, since Mr. Pengezov has no experience in civil court procedure, and the SJC has not provided any justification of its choice based on the merits of the candidate.
The letter is sent to the leading Bulgarian NGOs in the sphere of justice and home affairs, and copies are sent to the Ministry of Justice, the European Commission, and the SJC itself.
This letter is quite unusual, and gives some idea of the level of discontent with this appointment. I am much more inclined to comment on the principal question – the selection criteria of the SJC when it appoints administrative managers of the courts. This was one of the main topics of the interim report of the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism in February. Now this letter comes to prove that the SJC has not, in fact, taken into consideration the recommendations of the European Commission and has continued with the practice of appointment of high-ranking magistrates without any reasonable justification whatsoever.