Bulgarian Court Rejects Appeal of Ex Tsar in Palace Property Case

Society | March 11, 2011, Friday // 16:11|  views

Simeon Saxe-Coburg as a student in 1945. He was the last Tsar of the Bulgarians as a minor in 1943-1946; after decades in exile, in 2001-2005 he served as Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria. Photo by BGNES

The Plovdiv Appellate Court has confirmed the ruling of the district magistrates, which rejected the claim of Bulgaria's former Tsar and PM Simeon Saxe-Coburg and his sister Maria-Louisa in the dispute over the former royal palace Krichim.

In the past couple of years, the Bulgarian state and Simeon Saxe-Coburg and his sister Maria-Louisa have been tangled in a legal battle over the ownership of several real estate properties used by the Bulgarian royal family before its ousting by the communists in 1946.

The properties were restored to the ex-Tsar in 2001-2005 when he was the Prime Minister of Bulgaria but after 2009 the Borisov government has initiated proceedings to regain the ownership over them.

On Friday, the Plovdiv Appellate Court held a sitting on the case of the Krichim Palace and an adjacent agricultural land of 371 decares. The magistrates confirmed that 2010 ruling of the District Court in Plovdiv that the royal residence is not the property of the former Bulgarian royal family.

According to the Appellate Court, the Krichim Palace was not acquired on behalf of Saxe-Coburg or personally for him, as a private entity.

"Therefore, we cannot recover ownership rights over the said property," the court press center said.

The ruling could be appealed at the Supreme Court of Cassations within a month.

On January 28, lawyers Eli Hristova and Rosen Hristov declared that if the Appellate Court rejects their appeal, Saxe-Coburg will take the case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

The correspondence that the abdicated monarch had with the Bulgarian Prime Minister is taken to show that Ferdinand (who lived for 30 more years after his abdication) he did not want to present claims about the ownership of the Krichim residence and that he did not plan to interfere with the properties by the commissariat of civilian list of the state, an institution that managed state properties in Bulgaria before 1944, or to become involved in the political and economic life of his son Tsar Boris III.

According to Simeon Saxe-Coburg's lawyers, the correspondence shows that after 1918 Ferdinand did not want to intervene in Boris's ownership of the royal properties, including the Krichim palace.

The lawyers of the Bulgarian state argue that the Bulgarian royal family in 1879-1946 did not have personal funds and used state-owned properties, and that the funds they had within the commissariat of the civilian list of the government were too negligible to be used for purchasing property.

The Bulgarian state claims that all royal properties were in fact state properties because they were legally owned by the commissariat, a special institution managing state property in the period when Bulgaria was a monarchy before 1946.

The requests of Saxe-Coburg's lawyers dismissed as unfounded by the Appellate Court were designed to explore further the legal status of the Bulgarian monarch in 1879-1946, and a comparative research of the status of the civilian lists of constitutional monarchies, and the functions of the Bulgarian commissariat.

The Court has ruled that the demands for a new technical examination into the legal status of the former monarchs is unacceptable because it was up to the court itself to rule on legal matters.

At the end of 2009 the Bulgarian Parliament voted to freeze the former Tsar's rights to lands in the Rila mountains, on grounds of information disclosed after an investigation at the Ministry of Agriculture, according to which the former monarch was granted more land than his family actually owned. Bulgarian courts have also found a number of errors and violations in the procedure for returning lands to Simeon. The Ministry of Agriculture has also filed a claim against the former Tsar for the return of all 16 000 decares of forests he received in Rila.

The question of the so called "Tsar's estates" has become an issue disgruntling the Bulgarian society in the recent years over doubts that the property was given to Saxe-Coburg unlawfully during his term as Prime Minister (2001-2005).

Tsar Simeon II is the last monarch of Bulgaria, having reigned with regents 1943-1946 (aged 6-9), after the death of his father Boris III. After the communist takeover in 1944, a controversial referendum was held 1946, at which people voted in support for the creation of a republic, and this led to banishing of the royal family from the country. In 1947 a new constitution was adopted proclaiming Bulgaria a republic. Simeon returned to Bulgaria in 2001 and swiftly founded a liberal political party (National Movement Simeon II, later National Movement for Stability and Prosperity), which won a landslide victory in the general elections the same year.

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Tags: Tsar, Simeon Saxe-Coburg, Palace, Krichim, Tsar Ferdinand, Andrey Lyapchev, Tsar Boris III


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