Arrest and criminal procedure
In case of arrest or imprisonment, you need to immediately contact the Bulgarian mission in the respective country to inform them on what happened. In case of arrest, the mission shall be informed explicitly by the affected whether he/she wants his/her relatives to be informed about the arrest. Pursuant to the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations the diplomatic mission is informed by the host country about its citizen’s arrest only if the citizen wishes so. Some countries inform the diplomatic mission in all cases. The diplomatic mission has the right to visit the arrested and to correspond with them. These rights cannot be restricted by local laws to an extent that the mission cannot exercise them.
The Bulgarian embassies and consular services have no rights of participants in the procedural administrative or legal proceedings. They can assist the affected or their relatives in hiring a reliable local lawyer and the costs are covered by the affected person’s relatives.
In the course of the law suit, the diplomats of the Bulgarian embassy or consular service in the respective country together with the lawyer monitor the respect of human rights, the fundamental freedoms and minimum international standards (procedural delays, refusal to hear a party to the case), as well as for exhausting all legal means for defending the affected person.
If possible the lawyer of the defendant must file an application for the arrested to be put on parole (in this case the defendant cannot leave the country before the law suit is completed) or an application for transferring the case in Bulgaria.
Under some conditions, for example if there is a bilateral agreement between Bulgaria and the respective country and according to the final court ruling and the provisions of the local law related to serving a sentence, the sentenced could be transferred to serve the sentence in Bulgaria. The inmate can lodge an application to be pardoned to the competent authorities in the country where he/she is sentenced through the prison’s administration and with the help of the Bulgarian embassy.
The Bulgarian diplomatic missions monitor if the attitude to the imprisoned complies with the local laws and if the imprisoned has the opportunity to take advantage of all reliefs provided for by the local law.
International Legal Relations on Criminal Matters
In the international relations in the field of criminal matters there are a number of multilateral (mainly Council of Europe agreements) and bilateral agreements which govern issues related with:
• Legal aid (performing investigation actions and other procedural actions or submitting documents abroad), extradition (submitting a person to another country for the purposes of legal proceedings due to committed punishable deeds)
• Transferring the implementation of an imprisonment sentence in force against a Bulgarian citizen from abroad to Bulgaria – in case of a bilateral agreement with the respective country on the basis of a bilateral covenant which is on force on legal aid in criminal law suits.