The request was filed on 15 November 2012 by the Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives (BILI). The NGO requested that the Ministry of Interior (MoI) provide access to the information whether Sotir Tzatzarov (current Prosecutor General of the Republic of Bulgaria) has received an award under Article 216 of the Ministry of Interior Act for cooperating and providing concrete assistance to the MoI as President of the Plovdiv District Court. In case that he received an award – what were the reasons for this, the nature of the award, when and for what merits?
The Minister did not respond to the request filed. After a complaint was filed with the assistance of AIP, on 16 January 2013 the Minister issued a decision to leave the request without consideration as inadmissible. The Minister stated that the information sought is personal data of Sotir Tzatzarov thus falling outside the scope of the Access to Public Information Act (APIA).
By decision no. 10398 of 10 July 2013 of the SAC, Fifth Division on administrative case no. 2551/2013, judge-rapporteur Emanoil Mitev(in Bulgarian), the Supreme Administrative Court repealed a refusal of the Minister of Interior to provide information on whether the current Prosecutor General – Sotir Tzatzarov had received an award (a pistol) by the ministry at the time when he was president of the District Court – Plovdiv. The court held that information on awards given to persons in high state office by state institutions is not protected personal data but the interest in disclosure overrides.
The Minister lodged an appeal.
By a decision of 10 December 2013 (in Bulgarian), a five-member panel of the SAC upheld the decision of a three-member panel of the SAC repealing a refusal by the Ministry of Interior (MoI) to provide information to the “Bulgarian Institute for Legal Initiatives” foundation on whether the current Prosecutor General Sotir Tzatzarov had received an award (a pistol) by the Ministry at the time when he was president of the District Court – Plovdiv, and if he had received an award what were the reasons for this and when was this. The first instance decision had held that information on awards given to persons in high state office by state institutions is not protected personal data but the interest in disclosure overrides. In addition, the five-member panel stated that magistrates hold a public, high state office and according to the Constitutional Court’s case-law personal data protection of so-called public figures is far lower compared to the personal data protection of other citizens.