On November 28, 2019, a Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) unanimously held in Mustafa v. Belgium (in French only) that a civilian tried within the Bulgarian military court system suffered a violation of his fair trial rights under Article 6 of the Convention because the Bulgarian military courts lacked safeguards to preserve their independence and impartiality that are available in the ordinary courts. According to a press release issued by the Court (in English), the applicant in the case, Mr. Mustafa, was one of several defendants convicted of illegal cross-border trafficking and organizing and leading a criminal group. His case was tried in the military courts because one of the defendants was serving in the Bulgarian army at the time the offenses were committed. The ECtHR held that, although military court judges receive the same legal training as judges in the ordinary courts, some of the former courts' characteristics raised doubts about their independence and impartiality. This includes the fact that military judges are subject to military discipline and incorporated into the army and that jurors of the military court are army officers. In addition, the Court referred to its case law on military criminal justice and pointed out that such justice should only be extended to civilians if there are compelling reasons to do so. By contrast, the Bulgarian Code of Criminal Procedure provided for the exclusive jurisdiction of the military courts over offenses committed jointly by military personnel and civilians. This did not satisfy the standard under the Convention. The Court ordered Bulgaria to pay 2,500 euros in non-pecuniary damages to Mr. Mustafa, as well as 1,500 euros for costs and expenses.