Bulgarian Prosecution Denies Police Brutality during January Protests

The Sofia City Prosecutor’s Office has declined to initiate a formal investigation against police officers for the severe suppression of the protest in front of the Bulgarian Parliament on 14 January 2009.

I could not disagree more with this conclusion. I was myself witness of cases of police brutality during that day in my attempt to protest peacefully. I wrote about the police brutality the same day (you can read a Google translation of my account). I was later not surprised to see that the Bulgarian Parliament declined to form an ad hoc commission to investigate events during that day.

Now the Prosecutor’s Office tells me I didn’t see what I saw; that I am not able to discern between necessary and unnecessary use of force. True, it is up to that institution to conduct a formal investigation of events; it is also up to the prosecutors to decide whether there are grounds for starting an investigation in the first place.

But this development given all the information that we have about the events is really cynical. It is also exonerating all the acts of police brutality during that day. It is delegitimizing the whole Bulgarian law enforcement system only to protect the political instigators of that brutality.

Strangely enough, this announcement comes just a few days after the Minister of Justice announced 57 measures to reform the judiciary in order to respond to the criticism of the European Commission and Member States about our justice system.

Make no mistake – until ALL crimes in this country are prosecuted, no matter WHO committed these crimes – we will not have achieved any meaningful reform of the judiciary.

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