Fiches Belges
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Fiches Belges: Bulgaria

Hearing witnesses: by video conference (703)



Is this measure possible in your Member State under International Judicial Cooperation?

Procedural method for collecting of verbal evidence aimed at establishing of facts perceived by the witness and contributing to the revealing of the objective truth in the two stages of criminal proceedings /court stage and pre-trial stage/. There is an alternative measure with the same purpose. The alternative to second or subsequent interrogation in the court stage of proceedings is the reading of testimony of a witness given under the same case in the following hypotheses: 1. Under the pre-trial proceedings before a judge; 2. Before another panel of the court; 3. Under the pre-trial proceedings with the consent of all parties under the proceedings; 4. Under the pre-trial proceedings when a request for interrogation of the witness before a judge made by the defendant or his/her defense counsel is not granted. In this case the consent of the other parties is not necessary.



International legal framework applicable for this measure in your Member State

Art. 474, paragraph 1, sentence 1 and sentence 3, paragraph 2, items 1,2,3, paragraph 3, paragraph 4, paragraph 5, item 1, item 2, proposal 1, item 3 and item 4 of Criminal Procedure Code and art. 10 of Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union.



* receive the request/decision for judicial cooperation

In fulfillment of requests for legal assistance referring to interrogation of witness by video conference the request shall be fulfilled by the court /the Court of Appeal at the place of residence of the witness/ – in the court stage of proceedings and by the National Investigation Service - Sofia by virtue of an order of the prosecutor – in the pre-trial stage of proceedings.

* execute/recognise the measure (if other than the receiving authority)

Interrogation of witness by video conference shall be performed upon request in this regard by a judicial authority of another state and when this is envisaged under an international contract to which Republic of Bulgaria is a party. If an accused person takes part in the interrogation by video conference, his/her consent is mandatory. The request shall contain: 1. The reason why the appearance in person of the witness is undesirable or impossible; 2. The name of the competent authority of the other state; 3. The data of individuals who shall conduct the interrogation; 4. Consent of the accused person who will take part in an interrogation hearing through a video conference. According to the stage of proceedings in which the measure is applied, it shall be performed as follows: I. IN PRE-TRIAL PROCEEDINGS: the request for interrogation by video conference shall be fulfilled by an investigator from the National Investigation Service – Sofia. II. IN COURT PROCEEDINGS: the request for interrogation by video conference shall be fulfilled by the Court of Appeal at the place of residence of the witness. The competent Bulgarian authority may require the requesting state to provide the technical means for interrogation. The interrogation shall be performed directly by the judicial authority of the requesting state or under its supervision and in conformity to the legislation of the requesting state. The Bulgarian competent authority shall establish the identity of the witness and after the interrogation a written statement shall be drawn referring to: the date and place of performing of interrogation, data about the interrogated person and individuals who took part in the interrogation on Bulgarian side and conformity to other conditions accepted by the Bulgarian party. The rendering of assistance or participation of an official from the requesting state in the fulfillment of the measure is possible. The interrogation shall be held by judicial authority of the other state and in conformity to its legislation.



Accepted languages for the request/decision

Bulgarian language or one of the official languages of the Council of Europe. With regard to promptness and efficiency it is recommended the requests/decisions/ to be accompanied by translation in Bulgarian language.



Deadlines for the execution of the request/decision (where applicable)

Specific deadline is not envisaged. The practice shows that the fulfillment of requests/decisions usually takes between two and four months.



a. Special requirements

The spouse, ascendants, descendants, brothers, sisters of the accused party and the individuals with whom he/she lives in concubinage may refuse to testify. The witness is not obliged to answer questions the answers to which would incriminate him/her, his/her ascendants, descendants, brothers, sisters or spouse or a person with whom he/she lives in concubinage. The witness may not be interrogated about facts that became known to him/her in his/her capacity of defence counsel or attorney or in his/her capacity as translator at the meetings between the accused person and his/her defence counsel. Persons who participated in the same criminal proceedings, but in different procedural capacity may not testify as witnesses, except: 1. The accused, once proceedings have terminated or been disposed of by a sentence in force with regard to him/her; 2. The victim, the private prosecutor, the civil claimant, the civil respondent; 3. The certifying witnesses, as well as officers of the Ministry of Interior, the Military Police or the Customs Agency who attended during observation searches and seizures, investigative experiment and recognition of persons and objects. Individuals who have taken investigative or judicial trial action may not have the capacity of witnesses, even where records of action taken by them have not been drafted in accordance with the terms and in pursuance of the procedure provided for under the Criminal Procedure Code. Individuals, who on account of physical or mental deficiencies are unable to properly perceive the facts of significance in the case, or give reliable testimonies about them, may not have the capacity of witnesses. When necessary the interrogation of an underage accused person shall be conducted with participation of a pedagogue or psychologist who with the permission of the investigative body may ask him/her questions. The pedagogue or psychologist has the right to review the written statement of interrogation and to make remarks on the accuracy and completeness of its content.

b. Other useful information

The interrogation shall be held by judicial authority of the other state and in conformity to its legislation if this does not contradict to main principles of the law of Republic of Bulgaria.

Last reviewed on 25 August 2016 by EJN Secretariat
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