Bulgaria to probe top magistrates in graft scandal

Bulgaria's top judicial body decided to investigate 12 senior magistrates for links with a businessman suspected of bribing judges.

Bulgaria to probe top magistrates in graft scandal

Bulgaria's top judicial body decided on Friday to investigate 12 senior magistrates for links with a businessman suspected of bribing judges.

Cleaning up the judiciary is key to winning back the trust of the European Union, which punished Sofia last year by freezing access to millions of euros in EU aid over its failure to fight organised crime and graft.

The Supreme Judicial Council will start disciplinary procedures against the magistrates over telephone talks with Krasimir Georgiev, under investigation for offering to arrange top posts in the judicial system at a price of 200,000 euros.

The corruption scandal has shattered the Balkan country's judiciary, which is under pressure to reform and get rid of graft-prone judges and prosecutors.

Bulgaria's new centre-right government, which took office in July, has pledged to sever links between shadowy businessmen and high-level corrupt officials and magistrates and put an end to a climate of impunity.

Five senior magistrates, including two members of the council, which appoints the heads of the Balkan country's courts and prosecution offices, have already resigned from their posts in the corruption scandal. All deny any wrongdoing.

If found guilty of bringing disrepute on the judiciary for contacts with 27-year old Georgiev, known as Krasio the Black, they could be fined or lose their jobs, a spokeswoman for the council said.

Bulgaria may also launch criminal investigations into corrupt practices.

The council has frozen all appointments for administrative positions in the judicial system until the probe is completed.

Reuters

Güncelleme Tarihi: 30 Ekim 2009, 20:20
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