World Bulletin / News Desk
Bulgaria's top legal body sacked a well-known judge and government critic on Thursday, sparking condemnation and calls for protests from rights campaigners and legal workers.
The Supreme Judicial Council said Miroslava Todorova had been dismissed for taking too long over judging three cases.
The European Union has repeatedly urged its newest and poorest member to overhaul its slow and graft-prone justice system.
But rights group The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee said the sacking was an attempt to intimidate judges. A group of judges issued a public letter calling for protests on Friday.
"Today the Supreme Judicial Council dismissed Miroslava Todorova in a disciplinary procedure," said Bozhidar Suknarov, a member of the independent body which hires and fires judges and administers the legal system.
He told reporters Todorova had taken so long on the cases that legal time limits on the alleged offences had expired and the proceedings had collapsed.
Todorova, who is also the head of the judicial professional body the Union of Judges, was not immediately available for comment.
She had criticised the government in the past for not going far enough in its reforms and called for changes to the way members of the Supreme Judicial Council are chosen.
"This is an operation which aims to intimidate the judiciary. It is a punishment for what she had to say, not for what she had done," Krasimir Kanev, a member of the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee told national radio BNR.
A survey carried out by the independent Centre for the Study of Democracy in May showed more than 50 percent of the Bulgarians did not trust the courts and 72 percent believed magistrates could be easily bribed.Last Mod: 13 Temmuz 2012, 09:32