Bulgaria’s Supreme Court of Cassation to interpret disclosure of information in pre-trial proceedings

Bulgaria’s Supreme Bar Council has asked the Supreme Court of Cassation (SCC) to clarify in which cases and under what conditions a prosecutor may allow the disclosure of materials from a criminal investigation. In the instituted interpretive case, SCC’s Criminal Chamber should interpret Art. 198, para 1 of the Penal Procedure Code which says that investigation materials should not be disclosed without the prosecutor’s permission. The Court is also asked to clarify the following issues: (1) is it compatible with the presumption of innocence to disclose material in support of the prosecution’s case when this is not necessary to protect national security or to conduct an effective investigation by seeking the assistance of the public; (2) is it permissible to disclose materials of the investigation when the disclosure itself constitutes a crime; (3) is it permissible to disclose materials that relate to a third party outside the circle of defendants in the pre-trial proceedings. In its request for an interpretative decision, the bar said that recently the prosecutor’s office had been distributing fragmentary materials from pre-trial proceedings describing this practice as incorrect as it violated fundamental rights of citizens, such as the presumption of innocence, privacy, and freedom and secrecy of correspondence.

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