Sofia, January 21, 2016/Independent Balkan News Agency
The decision by Bulgaria’s Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC) to appoint a new representative has re-ignited a public row that has raised questions about the judiciary body’s independence from political influence.
Dimitar Ouzounov was elected representative of the council – a position that makes him the public face of the SJC and requires him to chair the council’s meetings when the Justice Minister is absent – on January 20. The manner of the change was partially the reason for the furore, as the item was added to the agenda without prior notice and came, according to some media reports, after some of the council’s members met to discuss the issue without notifying their colleagues in the SJC.
In the past, the council has been the target of criticism for lack of transparency on senior judiciary appointments, with some critics saying that a majority bloc exists and makes all appointments, disregarding any internal dissent.