Political Influence on the Bulgarian Judiciary?

Bulgaria’s new Interior Minister Tsvetan Tsvetanov has sided with the five anti-mafia policemen, who were sentenced to 82 years in jail for allegedly killing 38-year-old Angel Dimitrov, saying they did not act deliberately. He also said that he wouldn’t allow the five policemen to go to jail if that depended on him.

Angel Dimitrov AKA Chorata, was allegedly killed in November of 2005 by the Blagoevgrad police during a law enforcement operation entitled “Respect.” Dimitrov’s death was first presented as a heart attack but expertise showed that he had died due to blows to the head.

It is very difficult to assess the case from my position. There is a lot of contradictory evidence material, and one cannot speculate without having seen the whole documentation. However, the statement of Mr. Tsvetanov may be interpreted as a sign of political influence on the Supreme Cassation Court, and that is a problem. Time and again reports by the European Commission have stated that Bulgarian criminal justice is “subject to influence and interference”. Mr. Tsetanov should refrain from such statements that may hamper all other sincere efforts to reform the Bulgarian judiciary system.

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