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willowsend
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PostSubject: Organised crime   Thu Sep 24, 2015 12:34 am

Bulgarian parliament passes judicial reforms to tackle graft

By Reuters

Published: 14:20, 23 September 2015  | Updated: 14:20, 23 September 2015

By Angel Krasimirov

SOFIA, Sept 23 (Reuters) - The Bulgarian parliament approved reforms on Wednesday aimed at tackling corruption and streamlining the Balkan country's judicial system, including by beefing up the powers of a watchdog overseeing the behaviour of judges and prosecutors.

Bulgaria is one of the most corrupt countries in the European Union and, in contrast to its neighbour Romania, where a sweeping crackdown on graft is underway, has made scant progress in jailing senior officials and crime bosses.

Earlier in September, plans to set up a Romanian-style special agency to investigate high-level corruption were voted down by lawmakers, who said the agency could lead to a witch-hunt by prosecutors.

But parliament voted through the judicial reforms on Wednesday, despite the objections of a group of lawmakers mostly from the main opposition Socialist party. The changes were approved on a first reading and have to be voted on again.

"These changes are a good signal, they would help the judicial system to become independent and stronger. This is also a very important step because it is crucial to have a body to oversee the prosecution," said Daniel Smilov, a political analyst at the Centre for Liberal Strategies.

The changes will reduce the term of the Supreme Judiciary Council (SJC) by one year to four, and the body will split into two specialist colleges - a 13-member college overseeing judges and a 12-member college overseeing prosecutors.

The parliament bill also scraps secret voting by magistrates in the council. It gives greater importance to the role of the judicial inspectorate, allowing it to make checks on possible conflicts of interests among judges, prosecutors and investigators.

"Mechanical constitutional amendments will not lead to better judiciary management," Socialist party leader Mihail Mikov said.

In July, the ambassadors of seven EU member states issued a joint statement, calling on the Bulgarian government to implement the judicial reforms.

"We believe these reforms are vital in order to ensure a real rule of law in Bulgaria and hence to tackle corruption and organised crime," the ambassadors said. "They are also necessary to create the right environment for increased investment in Bulgaria including from the countries that we represent." (Editing by Matthias Williams/Hugh Lawson)


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PostSubject: Re: Organised crime   Sun Dec 13, 2015 11:51 pm

What is going on, 33 customs officers detained

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