World Bulletin/News Desk
More than 100 Bulgarian judges protested on Friday against the dismissal of a judge and government critic, accusing the top legal body of bias and double standards.
The Supreme Judicial Council sacked Miroslava Todorova, a chair of the judicial professional body, the Union of Judges, for taking too long over judging three cases.
"Todorova is one of the most prominent critics of the Supreme Judicial Council. Obviously she was inconvenient and was sacked in an unclear procedure," said judge Neli Kutskova at the demonstration in front of the council's offices in Sofia.
Rightist groups and professional organisations of magistrates also condemned the decision and called it an attempt to intimidate reformist judges and stifle change in the inefficient and graft-prone judiciary.
The centre-right government of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov, which came to office three years ago promising to end a climate of impunity in the European Union's poorest state, rushed to distance itself from the dismissal of Todorova.
"The decision of the Supreme Judicial Council, whose reputation I can call controversial, is a provocation aimed against the government," the prime minister said in a statement.
Borisov said other judges had been given lighter punishments or none for similar delays to cases and urged the council, an independent body which administers the legal system, to reconsider its decision.
Brussels has repeatedly urged its newest member to overhaul its justice system. It is to issue a report next week on Bulgaria's progress in fighting corruption and organised crime.
On Thursday, European leaders reprimanded neighbouring Romania, which also is under Brussels monitoring, for failing to protect the rule of law, sending a signal that the independence of judges should be respected.
Todorova said her dismissal was "humiliating and unfair" and she would appeal it. She called on judges not to be intimidated by the council.
"I may be a subject of repression but I do not feel a victim ... There is no need for the colleagues to be afraid," Todorova told a news conference.
Todorova has criticised the government for not going far enough in its reforms and called for changes to the way members of the Supreme Judicial Council are chosen.
A survey carried out by the independent Centre for the Study of Democracy in May showed more than 50 percent of Bulgarians did not trust the courts and 72 percent believed magistrates could be easily bribed.
More than 60 percent believe the judges are susceptible to political influence.
Middle Eastern countries will continue to be world's main oil supplier, says IEA chief economist
Essam Sultan, deputy leader for Wasat party jailed for one year for verbal and physical assault of policeman.
Schools shut as protesting teachers demand the government pass an education bill.
Syria approves delivery in hard to reach areas of Aleppo
Oil prices increased on Monday after India and China revealed high oil demand for November.
They will discuss a possible military action against Congo-based Rwandan rebels
Iranian parliament speaker has hailed a planned national dialogue in Lebanon between rivals Hezbollah and Sunni-led Future Movement
Veteran politician Beji Caid Essebsi has won Tunisia's first free presidential election, official results showed, but rioting broke out in one southern city, with police firing teargas to disperse hundreds of youths who burned tyres and blocked streets to demonstrate against the victory of an official from Ben Ali's old guard.
Officials from Sweden’s center-left and center-right parties secretly gather to solve failed agreements on the country’s 2015 budget, local media reports.
Pakistan plans to execute around 500 militants in coming weeks, officials said on Monday, after the government lifted a moratorium on the death penalty following a Taliban school massacre.
Brotherhood source says that the group's meetings and conferences were now being held outside Qatar, which is why he believes his residency in Doha won't be affected by the country's recent rapprochement with Egypt.
Ling is vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee and head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee.
Francis said some in the Curia acted as if they were "immortal, immune or even indispensable", an apparent reference to retired cardinals who remain in the Vatican
Fadhal al-Hassi, a senior officer in Haftar's forces, said that pro-government forces moved into the Lithi district, where the groups including Ansar al-Sharia are still mostly in control
Local residents have protested against the Letpadaung mine in Monywa, about 100 km (60 miles) west of Mandalay, saying thousands of acres of land have been confiscated to enable the project to proceed.