Ivan Geshev

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Ivan Geshev
Иван Гешев
Chief Public Prosecutor of Bulgaria
Assumed office
18 December 2019
Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor
In office
July 2018 – 18 December 2019
Chairman of the Specialized Prosecutor's Office
In office
July 2016 – July 2018
Personal details
Born (1970-12-19) 19 December 1970 (age 49)
Mirkovo, Bulgaria
NationalityBulgarian
Domestic partnerDetelina Hancheva
Alma materMVR Academy
ProfessionJurist, Prosecutor

Ivan Stoimenov Geshev (Bulgarian: Иван Стоименов Гешев) is a Bulgarian jurist serving as Bulgaria's Chief Public Prosecutor since 26 November 2019.

Geshev previously served as Head of the Specialized Prosecutor's Office (July 2016-July 2018), then as Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor (July 2018–present), before becoming a candidate for Chief Public Prosecutor in July 2019.[1]

Geshev was the only candidate proposed to succeed Sotir Tsatsarov as Chief Public Prosecutor of Bulgaria in 2019, which triggred controversy and public protests against his candidacy.[2][3] He was appointed to the position by Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council in late 2019, but his election was initially vetoed by Bulgarian President Rumen Radev. A second vote from the council confirmed Geshev as the Chief Prosecutor and constitutionally forced Radev to accept his nomination.[4] He was inaugurated on 18 December 2019.[5]

Biography[edit]

Ivan Geshev studied law graduated from the Academy of the Ministry of Interior, in Sofia.[6] He worked as an investigator before becoming a regular prosecutor in 2006.[7] He acquired legal capacity in 1996.

Investigator[edit]

Professional career[edit]

He took office as Prosecutor General on 18 December 2019 after his election on 14 November 2019.

Prior to taking office, Ivan Geshev gained leadership experience over the years through the leading positions he held within the Prosecution – Deputy Prosecutor General at the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor's Office (July 16, 2018 – December 18, 2019) and Head of the Specialized Prosecutor's Office (July 19, 2016 – July 16, 2018).

Between May 11, 2012 and July 19, 2016 he was Prosecutor at Sofia City Prosecutor's Office. Before that, in the period from April 17, 2006 to May 11, 2012 Ivan Geshev worked as a Prosecutor at Sofia Regional Prosecutor's Office having higher rank of „Prosecutor at the Prosecutor`s Office of Appeal” and was promoted to the rank of “Prosecutor at the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor`s Office and Supreme Administrative Prosecutor`s Office”.

In the period from February 1995 to April 2006 he successively held the position of Assistant investigator and Investigator at Sofia Metropolitan Investigation Service. From September 1994 to February 1995 he was operative functionary at Fifth District Police Department - Metropolitan Interior Directorate – Ministry of Interior

He is a graduate of MOI Academy and has a master's degree in Law.

Ivan Geshev holds Giovanni Falcone's Certificate for real contribution for restricting the distribution and use of drugs, prostitution, child pornography, corruption, terrorism and expressed support for causes to the benefit of society, for the formation of humane models of behavior in the younger generation; Certificate and plaque "Giovanni Falcone" from the competition "A cowards die many times, a brave man dies only once", issued by the Embassy of the Republic of Italy and the Municipality of Blagoevgrad; Europol Certificate for a successful operation, conducted on 4.10.2016 in Plovdiv for dismantling an illegal printing house for the production of Euro banknotes. Ivan Geshev participated in number of trainings, seminars and conferences: Training on: „General overview of Financial Crimes in Counterfeit US Currency"; Intensive specialized training for prosecutors and investigators from the Specialized Prosecutor's Office on “Corruption crimes”; Seminar: „Countering Terrorism”; Seminar: „Investigation techniques in detecting and proving terrorist activities, monitoring and suppression of terrorism financing”; Conference on “Euro Protection in Black Sea Region”; Training on: „Malfeasance. Bribe”; Completed course: „Obligatory ongoing qualification for prosecutors when promoted from district to county level – “Criminal law and procedure”. [8]

Nomination for General Prosecutor[edit]

The Supreme Judicial Council (SJC) Thursday elected Ivan Geshev to become Bulgaria's Prosecutor General. He was supported by a wide majority of 20 members of the SJC with only four voting against him. Coming to replace Sotir Tsatsarov, whose tenure expires in January. [9] At the plenum of the Supreme Judicial Council (SJC), in October 2019 the justice Minister Danail Kirilov did not nominate a candidate for new prosecutor general. This was the last JSC meeting where the Justice Minister could make a nomination. This leaves Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev the only candidate for the position. Geshev was nominated for prosecutor general by the SJC Prosecutors Chamber on July 22. He received the support of all eleven members of the Chamber, including that of Prosecutor General Sotir Tsatsarov, whose term expired in January 2020. Kirilov explained that he considers Geshev's nomination as one of the professional circles. In his words, even if there were another nominee, the maximum support they would receive would be within the 14 votes of the SJC members. "That would result in no election, no result of the election procedure. It would also mean the creation of a precondition for confrontation between the two chambers of the SJC, which I believe is absolutely undesirable and should not be allowed in any way and for any reason," the Minister said during the sitting. [10]

Protests[edit]

Ivan Geshev's nomination for General Prosecutor and the subsequent refusal of Minister of Justice Danail Kirilov to nominate a second candidate, which guarantees Geshev's appointment, sparked mass protests in Bulgaria in the summer of 2019.[11][12] Those protesting demand Geshev's withdrawal from the competition for General Prosecutor. “Geshev is a disgrace,” “Resign” and “Mafia should go” were the slogans of the protests.[13][14]

Political scientist Evgenii Dainov criticized the nomination: “Ivan Geshev clearly told us he will prosecute people from a list, without respecting the separation of powers. He will prosecute people who are inconvenient for him. He is extremely dangerous and he has revealed himself as the gravedigger of Bulgarian democracy”.[15]

Before becoming a Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev received both support and critic. With this regard Judge Zdravka Kalaidjieva, former judge at the European Court of Human Rights, is also concerned: “In his interview with the Bulgarian National Television, Mr. Geshev presented his views on the prosecutor’s office as a repressive body against pre-selected ideological and economic opponents – views which are contrary to the principle of equality before the law, pluralism of opinions and free competition. He believes the prosecution is a body whose main purpose is to arrest and conduct show operations and convict people instead of sending the suspects of a crime before a court which can hand down a verdict”.[16] In response to the protests, colleagues of Ivan Geshev from the prosecution started a petition in his support. There were many declaration of Regional Prosecutor's Offices and jurists, who written expressed their support and hope about the nomination of Geshev. On the web-page of the Supreme Judicial Council were published also declaration for the nomination of Ivan Geshev, written by lawyers and university professors. [17]

Some analysts believe Ivan Geshev may be a rocket carrier for a less public but equally controversial candidate who may be nominated after protests escalate.[18] Prime Minister Boyko Borisov has already expressed his support for Member of European Parliament Emil Radev.[19]

Prominent civil society members and NGOs, including the Bulgarian Helsinki Committee, asserted that he lacked the professional and moral qualities which are required for the position because of his record of abusing the law and human rights.[20][21][22][23]

Chief Prosecutor of Bulgaria[edit]

In November 2019, Bulgaria's Supreme Judicial Council voted to appoint him to the office with 20 votes for and 4 against. Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, however, refused to sign the decree formally inaugurating Geshev, remarking that his candidacy had been backed only by government-controlled institutions and that no other alternative was provided. He called on the judicial council to revise their decision.[24][25] The council, however, voted in favour of Geshev a second time with the same vote margin, which triggred a constitutional requirement for Radev to sign the decree.[26] Stating that he would refuse to violate the constitution, Radev did so following a meeting with Geshev, but called for changes to Bulgaria's constitution.[27]

Shortly before taking office, Geshev cancelled a meeting he had appointed with Bulgarian opposition leader Korneliya Ninova, after the latter announced that she would provide additional information to Geshev regarding a water availability crisis affecting Pernik. He accused Ninova of using the institution for "political gains". Ninova reacted by stating that it was his decision on whether or not to meet with her, but that she would nonetheless send him questions in written format.[28]

Investigations carried out by Ivan Geshev and investigations of Prosecutor's Office ruled by Ivan Geshev[edit]

The main priorities of Ivan Geshev as Prosecutor General of the Republic of Bulgaria are the countering domestic crimes, drug trafficking and combating high corruption.

Sarafovo case[edit]

Life sentences without parole were imposed by the Specialized Criminal Court on Meliad Farah and Hassan al-Haj, accused by the Specialized Prosecutor's Office as perpetrators of the attack on Sarafovo Airport in 2012.The court also upheld the civil claims for non-pecuniary damages caused to the dead five Israeli citizens and one Bulgarian citizen, as well as for the many victims during the attack amounting to a total of over BGN 100 million. Meliad Farah and Hassan al-Haj were sentenced also to the maximum conviction of 10 years in prison each for using false official documents - false driving licenses of the State of Michigan and a social security card in order to conceal their identity on Bulgarian territory.The court held that the collected written, oral and physical evidence clearly indicated that Meliad Farah and Hassan al-Haj were the perpetrators of the organized terrorist attack against Israeli tourists on Bulgarian territory. The two defendants owning Australian and Canadian passports, were found to be of Lebanese descent and had links to the radical wing of the Shiite group “Hezbollah”. The decision of the Specialized Criminal Court is not final and can be appealed to the Specialized Criminal Court of Appeal.[29]

Prosecution of an acting minister[edit]

By the end of 2019 began the 7-years mandate of the newly appointed Prosecutor General of the Republic Bulgaria Ivan Geshev. In the past four months his activity could be defined as extremely intensive. For the first time in the New history of the Republic Bulgaria an acting minister was prosecuted for mismanagement, resulting into a water crisis in the city near the capital – Pernik. [30]

High corruption investigation[edit]

For the first time in 30 years there is a deep investigation of a well-known Bulgarian richest gambling businessman. Furthermore, some representatives of the state authority, engaged with the monitoring of the gambling activities on national level, were also accused.[31] Following an investigation of the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria for espionage, Russian citizens were forcibly removed because of accusation of their links with the intelligence services of the Russian Federation. Checks and investigations have been commissioned for identifying misuse of European Funds – Rural Development Program – Family Hotels; in addition, some of those involved were indicted for.

Revision of the Privatization cases[edit]

An in-depth review of the 30-years period of privatization of state-owned properties was commissioned based on information on possible harming of the public interest of billions of Euros. [32]

Organized crimes cases[edit]

At the initiative of the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria, numerous actions have been taken in the past 4 months, aiming to cease the unregulated incineration of hazardous waste at the Bulgarian Thermal Power Station. Part of the amount waste was imported from European countries, therefor at the end of the investigation by the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic of Bulgaria this waste was exported back to the country of origin. A few days ago, the largest pollutant incinerating of hazardous waste, which many media have report over the years for, have ceased operations after an order of the Prosecutor's Office of the Republic Bulgaria.

Corporate Commercial Bank case[edit]

Ivan Geshev is most known for his role in the Corporate Commercial Bank case – he describes himself as “the face of the team which worked on it”.[33] After a rift between the bank's majority shareholder Tsvetan Vasilev and Delyan Peevski in 2014, the prosecution raided Vassilev's offices and triggered a run on the bank.[34] Vassilev says the bank was attacked because he refused to transfer assets to Peevski “for free”.[35] The Bulgarian National Bank did not provide a liquidity injection to the bank, put it under conservatorship and revoked its license.[36] Depositors and shareholders were not allowed to appeal the decision – there is pending litigation before the European Court of Human Rights and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes.[37][38] Clients of the bank have also submitted a claim against Delyan Peevski and Bulgarian institutions in New York under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.[39]

In 2017, Geshev indicted Vassilev and 17 other people for leading an organized criminal group, which allegedly drained the bank. Geshev compared writing the indictment to “landing on the Moon with a diesel engine”.[40] When commentators wondered why Peevski was not questioned during the investigation, Geshev said that Putin and Obama were not questioned either.[41] Critics have observed that the main witness against Vassilev, Biser Lazov, became a millionaire after the bank's closure by appropriating assets of the bank.[42] Many believe the bank was purposefully bankrupted, so that its assets could be appropriated by political circles.[43] In December 2018, the Specialized Prosecutor's Office raided the offices of Vassilev's lawyers and confiscated documents. Journalists commented that “the message was clear” – “if lawyers do not want to end in trouble, they should choose their clients carefully and avoid those who the prosecution wants to convict not based on proof, but on bla-bla from 1001 Nights”.[44] In 2019, the prosecution arrested witnesses in the Corporate Commercial Bank case and raised charges against them.[45] Free Europe reported that the charges have been raised based on unclear documents – it was also “unprecedented” that the gendarmerie was mobilized and surrounded the court building when the people's measures were examined by the court.[46]

Mladost case[edit]

A second case for which Ivan Geshev is known is the arrest and subsequent trial of Desislava Ivancheva and Bilyana Petrova, mayor and deputy mayor of the Mladost municipality of Sofia. The two were held in handcuffs for hours while media were invited to film.[47] The women were held in custody during the trial in conditions which Bulgaria's ombudsman Maya Manolova described as unacceptable.[48] In the summer of 2018, Ivancheva was escorted to hospital with handcuffs, leg cuffs and a protective belt, which human rights experts deemed to be an example of torture.[49]

Bilyana Petrova's lawyer Irène Savova was subjected to prosecutorial pressure as the prosecution opened 11 proceedings against her.[50] Her apartment building was plastered with her obituaries – an incident the prosecution refused to investigate even though it looked like a death threat.[51]

Ivancheva and Petrova were accused of asking for a bribe to provide a construction permit quickly, but the main witness against them retracted his testimony, arguing he was pressured to provide false statements by the prosecutors. Ivan Geshev said that “all gypsies do this” and this was “expected”.[52] Media reported that the other witness against Ivancheva and Petrova had common business interests with Ivan Geshev's spouse Detelina Hancheva.[53]

The Bulgarian Helsinki Committee argues the arrest of Ivancheva and Petrova in 2018 was a “drastic violation of human rights”.[54] They also claim: “Geshev’s behavior either shows his lack of knowledge of human rights or the purposeful violation of human rights. Both hypotheses are inadmissible and their consequences will be examined by the European Court of Human Rights”.[55]

The arrests and abuses in custody of Ivancheva and Petrova were included in the 2018 Human Rights Report by the United States Department of State as examples of human rights violations.[56]

First case of preventing terrorism[edit]

In June 2019, Bulgaria's Prosecutor's Office arrested a 16-year-old boy with the claim they “prevented a terrorist attack”.[57] Ivan Geshev said this was a “classic case of recruitment by ISIS which lasted for up to a year” and this was “the first case of prevention of a terror attack” in Bulgaria.[58] Geshev stated parents had to be vigilant because children get radicalized through the Internet.[59] Shortly after, it turned out the parents of the boy contacted the authorities themselves because they were worried about the child's mental health.[60] Even though the prosecution demanded the child's permanent arrest, the court released him under the condition of being monitored by a child psychologist.[61] Commentators believe this operation is a publicity stunt aimed at improving the image of the prosecution.[62][63]

Hacking of the National Revenue Agency[edit]

In July 2019, the personal data of millions of Bulgarians was distributed to the media – it appeared the database of the country's National Revenue Agency was hacked.[64] "So, at least for a year, the Bulgarian society, politicians, those who are in charge of the country, they knew quite well about the serious cybersecurity problems in the government infrastructures and they didn't do anything about it", a victim was quoted saying.[65]

The National Assembly of the Republic of Bulgaria and its gardens: the prosecution argues the hackers conspired to hack the gardens' sprinklers, spray cars and cause political instability

The prosecution initially detained a 20-year old information security worker.[66] However, Ivan Geshev announced that the main lead on which they work is “cyber racketeering” and “a conspiracy against the state”.[67] Geshev also said the prosecution found “horrifying things” on the security worker's computer: he was searching information about Delyan Peevski, Boyko Borisov and Sotir Tsatsarov.[68] Subsequently, the prosecution modified the charges – the head of the company in which the information security expert worked, the commercial director and the expert himself were accused of terrorism. Prosecutor Evgeniya Stankova told the media that the three carried out “activity against the political system”.[69] She said the three conspired to hack the sprinkler system of the gardens of the Bulgarian Parliament, to spray the cars of guests, and to induce panic among the general population in order to destabilize the whole political system.[70] Free Europe, however, inquired before the Bulgarian National Assembly and found there was no electronic irrigation system: the gardens were watered with water carriers.[71] The water terrorism theory by the prosecution inspired jokes and memes which were covered on national television.[72]

Personal views[edit]

In a wide-ranging interview, Geshev saw the decision to keep churches open to the public for Easter in the midst of the COVID–19 pandemic in Bulgaria as a "sign from God that things will be all right for us [Bulgarians]." He went on to question the faith of other Orthodox churches that closed down services to the public, and described opposition to the decision in the country as an "anarcho-liberal circle which doesn't like anything Bulgarian or national." Geshev also cited the "anarcho-liberal" reaction following his nomination as a driving force to continue with the process. He revealed his personal philosophy is that "one is not a bad person for doing bad things but for enjoying them," and that he sees himself "as an instrument in the hands of God." The Chief Prosecutor attempted to allay fears of an economic crash by sharing he has read that, if need be, the population could be fed fish for a year without any import.[73]

Personal life[edit]

Ivan Geshev has two daughters with his partner Detelina Hancheva.[74] In 2019, media reported that Detelina Hancheva had common business interests with the key witness in the Mladost case in which Geshev was the main prosecutor.[75] Neither the prosecution nor the Supreme Judicial Council opened an investigation to establish if this conflict of interest influenced the proceedings.[76] In August 2019 Bivol established Detelina Hancheva had bought a flat from a company owned by the main witness at below the market price.[77] In July 2020, again the investigative journalists from Bivol.bg published article with the connection of Ivan Geshev and partner Detelina Hancheva to the underground world. The article points out questionable connection between Geshev and the supposed "abductor" of Hancheva, Yuri Galev. Geshev was prosecutor in the case against Galev and throughout the investigation, evidence mysteriously disappeared, including Hnacheva's name in relation to the case, which eventually lead to Galev's acquittal. as in almost all of Geshev's prosecution cases.[78]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Кой е Иван Гешев?". nova.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2020-01-08.
  2. ^ "Several Thousands Demand Geshev's Withdrawal and Selection of Boyko Atanasov as Attorney General". Novinite. 30 July 2019.
  3. ^ "Large numbers in protests in Bulgaria against nominee to be Prosecutor-General". Sofia Globe. 29 July 2019.
  4. ^ "Радев подписа указа за Гешев, иска промяна в Конституцията". Vesti.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2020-01-08.
  5. ^ "Иван Гешев встъпва в длъжност". nova.bg (in Bulgarian). Retrieved 2020-01-08.
  6. ^ https://prb.bg/prokuratura/glaven-prokuror/en/biografia
  7. ^ "Biography of Ivan Geshev". Website of the Prosecution of the Republic of Bulgaria.
  8. ^ https://prb.bg/prokuratura/glaven-prokuror/en/biografia
  9. ^ http://www.bta.bg/en/c/DF/id/2095238
  10. ^ http://www.bta.bg/en/c/DF/id/2052962
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  14. ^ "Geshev is a disgrace, screamed hundreds of citizens angry with his nomination". Sega. 26 July 2019.
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  62. ^ "The complexes in the country are dangerous for society". Clubz. 11 June 2019.
  63. ^ "The prosecution abruptly changed its version about the boy arrested for terrorism". Clubz. 14 June 2019.
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  65. ^ "An entire nation just got hacked". CNN. 21 July 2019.
  66. ^ "An entire nation just got hacked". CNN. 21 July 2019.
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  68. ^ "The person accused for the hacking of the National Revenue Agency looked for information about Borisov, Tsatsarov and Peevski". Darik News. 23 July 2019.
  69. ^ "The prosecution: the accused ones tried to switch on the lawn sprinklers of the National Assembly". Svobodna Evropa (Free Europe). 31 July 2019.
  70. ^ "The prosecution: the accused ones tried to switch on the lawn sprinklers of the National Assembly". Svobodna Evropa (Free Europe). 31 July 2019.
  71. ^ "Water has nothing to do with Internet: destabilization with sprinklers turned out to be impossible". Svobodna Evropa (Free Europe). 31 July 2019.
  72. ^ "On sprinklers and stability: social media on the latest cyber revelations of the prosecution". BTV Novinite. 31 July 2019.
  73. ^ "Иван Гешев: Да, вярващ съм! Господ ни дава знак, че от тази криза ще излезем по-силни и по-добри". epicenter.bg (in Bulgarian). 14 April 2020. Retrieved 14 April 2020.
  74. ^ "Ivan Geshev linked to the main witness in the Ivancheva case". Svobodna Evropa (Free Europe). 17 May 2019.
  75. ^ "Ivan Geshev linked to the main witness in the Ivancheva case". Svobodna Evropa (Free Europe). 17 May 2019.
  76. ^ "The specialized prosecution shed light on the friendship between Geshev and Vaklin's business partner". Svobodna Evropa (Free Europe). 6 August 2019.
  77. ^ "Vaklin built the building in which Geshev's spouse brought a cheap apartment". Bivol. 7 August 2019.
  78. ^ https://bivol.bg/en/life-partner-of-bulgarian-prosecutor-general-linked-to-organized-crime-controversial-energy-mogul.html