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Fiches Belges: Bulgaria

Joint investigation teams (805)

1. MEASURE IMPLEMENTATION

Bulgaria

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

The provisions concerning joint investigation teams (JITs) are among the tools to facilitate mutual assistance in criminal matters between EU Member States. These provisions transpose into domestic legislation the international commitments arising from the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (Article 13) and Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on joint investigation teams. This legal tool enables Member States of the European Union to develop a common investigation strategy, to distribute among them the tasks in combating cross-border organised crime, to transmit and exchange information efficiently, quickly and flexibly, and to plan and undertake coordinated criminal prosecutions. The measure is a form of international judicial cooperation that is different from the usual forms of this type of cooperation. In addition to compliance with all formal regulatory requirements, the effective functioning of the JIT tool requires a high level of trust between the members of the team. Drawing up and sending requests for judicial assistance is avoided by setting up JITs. The provisions concerning JITs are one of the tools facilitating mutual assistance in criminal matters between EU Member States. They transpose in their national legislation the international arrangements arising from the Convention of 29 May 2000 on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (Article 13) and Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on joint investigation teams. National framework: Criminal Procedure Code (NPK): Article 476(3)

2. LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Bulgaria

International legal framework applicable for this measure in your Member State

1. Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters between the Member States of the European Union (Convention of 2000): Article 13; 2. Council Framework Decision of 13 June 2002 on joint investigation teams (2002/465/JHA); 3. Second Additional Protocol to the European Convention on Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters of 20 April 1959: Article 20; 4. United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, in force for the Republic of Bulgaria from 29 September 2003: Article 19.

3. COMPETENT AUTHORITY TO:

Bulgaria

* receive the request/decision for judicial cooperation

For the Republic of Bulgaria, the authority competent to conclude an agreement on the setting up of a JIT is the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor’s Office (VKP). In accordance with Article 476(3) of the Bulgarian Criminal Procedure Code (NPK), the Supreme Cassation Prosecutor’s Office (VKP) together with other States sets up joint investigation teams involving Bulgarian prosecutors and investigative bodies. An agreement on the activities, period and composition of the joint investigation team is concluded with the competent authorities of the participating States. In the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, the international investigation team complies with the provisions of international treaties, the conditions of the agreement, and Bulgarian legislation.

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

See above

4. ACCEPTED LANGUAGES

Bulgaria

Accepted languages for the request/decision

The request for judicial assistance requesting the establishment of a joint investigation team and the documents enclosed with that request must be accompanied by a translation into Bulgarian, and in case such translation is not available, by a translation into one of the official languages of the Council of Europe. Nevertheless, owing to the nature of the measure and the fast execution of the request, accompanying the request with a translation into Bulgarian is recommended.

5. EXECUTION DEADLINE

Bulgaria

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

The deadline is set in the agreement and may be extended by mutual agreement between the parties.

6. CONCISE LEGAL PRACTICAL INFORMATION

Bulgaria

a. Special requirements

Prerequisites for concluding an agreement and setting up a JIT: where a Member State’s investigations into criminal offences require difficult and demanding investigations having links with other Member States, or a number of Member States are conducting investigations into criminal offences in which the circumstances of the case necessitate coordinated, concerted action in the Member States involved. A request for the setting up of a joint investigation team may be made by any of the Member States concerned. The team is set up in one of the Member States in which the investigations are expected to be carried out. In addition to the information referred to in Article 14 of the European Mutual Assistance Convention of 1959, requests for the setting up of a joint investigation team must include proposals for the composition of the team. The parties to the agreement are the VKP for the Republic of Bulgaria and the relevant competent authority of the other State (or States). The period of the agreement may be extended by mutual agreement between the parties. The operation of a JIT in Bulgarian territory is subject to the provisions of Bulgarian legislation. The leader of the team will be a representative of the competent Bulgarian judicial authorities participating in the investigation (a prosecutor). The foreign participants in a JIT operating in Bulgarian territory will have the status of ‘seconded JIT members’. The members of the team will carry out their tasks under the leader’s direction, taking into account the conditions set by their own authorities in the agreement on setting up the team. To the extent that the laws of the Member States concerned or the provisions of any legal instrument applicable between them permit, arrangements may be agreed for persons other than representatives of the competent authorities of the Member States setting up the joint investigation team to take part in the activities of the team. Such persons may, for example, include officials of bodies set up pursuant to the Treaty on European Union. The rights conferred upon the members or seconded members of the team by virtue of Article 13 of the Convention do not apply to these persons unless the agreement expressly states otherwise. In this way, arrangements may be agreed for officials of Europol, Eurojust, OLAF, etc., to take part in the activities of the JIT. It may be agreed that when the operational activities are transferred from the Republic of Bulgaria to another Member State, that Member State’s regulations will take effect accordingly. Seconded members of the joint investigation team are entitled to be present when investigative actions are taken in the Republic of Bulgaria. However, the leader of the team may, for particular reasons and in accordance with Bulgarian legislation, decide otherwise. Seconded members may, in accordance with Bulgarian legislation, be entrusted by the Bulgarian leader of the team with the task of taking certain investigative actions where this has been approved by the competent authorities of the Bulgarian State and of the seconding State. Where the joint investigation team needs investigative actions to be taken in one of the Member States setting up the team, members seconded to the team by that Member State may request their own competent authorities to take those measures. Those measures will be considered in that Member State under the conditions which would apply, if they were requested in a national investigation. Where the joint investigation team needs assistance from a Member State other than those which have set up the team, or from a third State, the request for assistance may be made by the competent authorities of the State of operations to the competent authorities of the other State concerned in accordance with the relevant instruments or arrangements. Any member of the joint investigation team may, in accordance with his or her national law and within the limits of his or her competence, provide the team with information available in the Member State which has seconded him or her for the purpose of the criminal investigations conducted by the team. Information lawfully obtained by a member or seconded member while part of a joint investigation team which is not otherwise available to the competent authorities of the Member States concerned may be used only in accordance with Article 13(10) of the Convention of 29 May 2000. Within the framework of an agreement on the setting up of a JIT, concluded by the Republic of Bulgaria, provisions may be made for the following special rules: Conditions under which seconded JIT members may be excluded from taking certain investigative measures/actions; under the leadership of the relevant responsible official of the guest party, a particular seconded member of the team may be entrusted with the task to take investigative measures/actions to the extent to which this is approved by the sending Member State; this does not justify or ensure any competence to foreign officials to decide that a responsible official of the guest party may intervene at any time when certain investigative measures/actions are taken; special conditions under which seconded members may conduct investigations in Member States of operation; special conditions under which a seconded JIT member may contact his or her own national authorities in order to carry out the tasks entrusted to him or her by the group without this requiring the sending of a request for judicial assistance; conditions under which seconded JIT members may share information derived from seconding authorities; specific conditions for personal data protection; conditions under which seconded members may carry/use weapons, etc.

b. Other useful information

N/A

Last reviewed on 6 January 2021 by EJN Secretariat

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