Fiches Belges
Measure Implementation
Measure possibility

Legal Framework
Applicable Framework

Competent authority
Request/decision
Execute/recognise measure

Accepted Languages
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Execution Deadline
Deadlines

Legal info
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Fiches Belges: Bulgaria

Hearing children (705)

1. MEASURE IMPLEMENTATION

Bulgaria

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

Children under the Bulgarian legislation are the persons who have not turned the age of 18 years. They may be interrogated as witnesses or accused persons /defendants/: 1, AS WITNESSES – minors (up to 14 years) and juveniles (from 14 to 18 years) may be interrogated as witnesses. 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/. 2. AS ACCUSED/DEFENDANTS – only juveniles (from 14 to 18 years) may have such capacity. Procedural method for collecting of verbal evidence coming from the charged person and an instrument for realization of his/her right of defense. 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. Alternative measure is the interrogation through video conference.

2. LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Bulgaria

International legal framework applicable for this measure in your Member State

Art. 54, art. 55, art. 115, art. 117, art. 138, art. 139, art. 140, art. 142, art. 222, art. 223, art. 277 - art. 279, art. 280 paragraph 1 - paragraph 5, art. 281, art. 385 - 395 of Criminal Procedure Code of Republic of Bulgaria and art. 4 the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters.

3. COMPETENT AUTHORITY TO:

Bulgaria

* receive the request/decision for judicial cooperation

In fulfilment of requests for legal assistance referring to interrogation of minor and juvenile witnesses the request shall be fulfilled by the court – in the court stage of proceedings and by the prosecutor or the investigation authority by virtue of an order of the prosecutor – in the pre-trial stage of proceedings. Interrogation of a juvenile accused person in the pre-trial proceedings shall be performed by the prosecutor or investigation authority with special preparation by virtue of an order of the prosecutor. Interrogation of a juvenile accused person in the court proceedings shall be performed by the court.

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

I. SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS WITH REGARD TO INTERROGATION OF MINORS AND JUVENILES AS WITNESSES: 1. The interrogation of a minor witness (up to 14 years) shall be performed in the presence of a pedagogue or psychologist and when necessary – one of the parents or the guardian shall also be present. 2. The interrogation of a juvenile witness (from 14 to 18 years) shall be performed in the presence of the same persons if the competent authority finds that necessary. 3. With authorisation of the body conducting the interrogation, the persons under item 1 may put questions to the minor or juvenile witness. Apart from these specific requirements the interrogation shall be performed in conformity to the following standard procedural rules: 1. The identity of the witness shall be established and the relations thereof with the accused/defendant and with the other participants in the proceedings /if the witness is a protected one with secret identity only the identification number is recorded/; 2. The juvenile witness shall be warned about the penal liability in case of false testimony and the minor witness shall only be instructed about the necessity to give true testimony. The rights granted by virtue of the Criminal Procedure Code shall be explained to him/her, as the main rights are: right to refuse to testify if he/she is a close relative, spouse or person who lives in concubinage with the accused/defendant; right not to testify on questions, the answers to which might incriminate him/her or his/her close relatives in the commission of crime; right to consult an attorney; rights of a victim /if he/she has such procedural capacity/. 3. The competent authority shall invite the witness to state in the form of free narration all that may be known to him/her about the case. The witness shall give his/her testimony verbally directly in front of the respective authority. 4. The witness may be asked questions by the competent authority and the parties under the case. 5. Everything stated by the witness shall be recorded in a statement. 6. If the witness does not speak Bulgarian language or is deaf or mute a translator shall be appointed /under the first hypothesis/ or an interpreter shall be appointed /under the second and the third hypotheses/. 7. The interrogation of important witnesses or of such with regard to which there is a risk not to participate in the court proceedings may be performed in front of a judge from the respective regional court. II. SPECIFIC REQUIREMENTS WITH REGARD TO INTERROGATION OF MINORS AND JUVENILES AS ACCUSED/DEFENDANTS: - the pre-trial proceedings shall be conducted by investigation authorities with special preparation – the interrogation shall be performed during the day except in cases when it may not be delayed. - before the interrogation the competent authority shall establish the identity of the accused/defendant. - when necessary the the competent authority shall order the interrogation of underage accused person to be conducted with participation of a pedagogue or psychologist who with the permission of the competent authority may ask him/her questions and make remarks on the accuracy and completeness of the content of the statement of interrogation after its review. - the interrogation shall start with the question whether he/she understands the accusations and after that the accused/defendant shall be invited to tell, if he/she wants to do so, everything that he/she knows about the case. - the accused/defendant may be asked questions by the competent authority and the other parties under the proceedings. - the accused/defendant has the right to give explanations /verbally and directly/ in any moment of the pre-trial and court investigation and to refuse to give explanations. - upon discretion of the authority conducting the pre-trial proceedings (prosecutor or investigating authority) the interrogation may be performed before a judge from the respective first instance court with participation of defence counsel. This interrogation may be used directly in the court proceedings in case of controversies or impossibility to interrogate the defendant. - the court proceedings against juvenile persons as a rule shall be held behind closed doors. The summoning of their parents or guardians is mandatory who have rights to participate – in collection and verification of evidence and to make requests, remarks and objections. At interrogation of a juvenile accused/defendant his/her procedural rights shall be observed, the main of which include: - right to a defence counsel (the defence of a juvenile defendant by an attorney is mandatory); - to present evidence and to review the case; - to make requests, remarks and objections; - to appeal the act that affect his rights and legal interests; - right to have last word. The measure may be performed in conformity to the procedure of the requesting state by virtue of art. 4, item 1 of the Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union of 29.05.2000 when this is explicitly requested by the requesting state.

4. ACCEPTED LANGUAGES

Bulgaria

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.

5. EXECUTION DEADLINE

Bulgaria

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.

6. CONCISE LEGAL PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Bulgaria

a. Special requirements

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

By virtue of art. 4 of the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters the participation of officials from the requesting state in the performance of the measure is possible when explicit demand in this regard was made and duly admitted by the requested state and 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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