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National Assembly
of the Republic of Bulgaria
Parliament passes amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code
March 25, 2010

National Assembly adopted at the sitting on March 25, 2010, on second reading, amendments to the Criminal Procedure Code. The changes foresee, in the future, indictment and conviction to be carried out based solely on evidence collected with special investigative techniques combined with testimony of protected witnesses. It happened after lawmakers changed Art. 177 of the current code, which was not allowing the court to rule out based on such evidence alone.

The other important amendment reflects the regulation of the undercover agents within the Criminal Procedure Code. The status of the agents was so far missing completely in the procedural law, regulating the activities of such employees. The undercover officer won’t be questioned as a witness when there exist sufficient grounds to assume that a real danger to his/her life or health, to him/her and his/her relatives may arise as a result of the testimony. He/she can not be questioned also when this can impede in some way the performance of his/her duties. The identity release of an undercover agent can only be granted to the supervising prosecutor or the court, after a detailed written request forwarded to the head of the office, employing the agent. The disclosure of the undercover officer’s identity can only occur in the absence of a threat to him or his relatives, MPs voted.

The amendments to the CP Code further stipulate that indictment and conviction can not be based on testimony of an undercover agent or protected witnesses (secret witnesses) alone. The court and prosecution authorities should take the precautions to disguise the agent's voice or features while questioning them. Before the questioning, the head of the structure which carries out the investigation testifies that the undercover officer and the person interrogated (questioned) are one and the same. According to the regulations introduced in the Code the undercover agent signs a statement acknowledging his/her duties and tasks in the particular investigation. It is kept by the office to which he/she was appointed using his/her personal ID number rather than his/her proper name.

The order, starting the investigation with the participation of an undercover agent describes the offence for which he/she will be used and his/her ID number. The amendments of the Criminal Procedure Code envisage as well amendments to the Criminal Code, exonerating all acts committed by the person acting as undercover agent within the prescribed statutory powers given to him/her.
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