Sofia City Court has confirmed the Sofia Regional Court’s sentencing of Rossen Bossev, a journalist at Capital Weekly and member of the Executive Board of the Association of European Journalists in Bulgaria, AEJ-Bulgaria, to a fine of 1,000 BGN [500 euros] in a defamation case filed by Stoyan Mavrodiev, a former chairman of the Financial Supervision Commission, FSC, ? government body in charge of ensuring the stability of the banking system, and current director of the Bulgarian Development Bank.
The defamation complaint is particularly demonstrative of the way in which state officials are able to use institutions as tools for pressure.
Even though the libel has not been proven in court, AEJ-Bulgaria is stunned to learn that Bossev has been sentenced for taking part in a television talk show during which he has tried to explain why FSC has imposed a significant fine to the publication he works for. However, the statements made by Bossev are based on facts which the plaintiff didn’t dispute in court.
Moreover, the judge-rapporteur appointed to this case, Petya Krancheva, has been the subject of a series of articles written by Bossev which have exposed a number of deficiencies in her work. All the stories have been published prior to the trial allocation.
Judge Krancheva refused to recuse herself in spite of the journalist’s request that she did so. This fact draws the objectivity of the court into serious question.