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(DF) Supreme Court Rejects State’s Claims to Royal Residence

October 12 (BTA) – The Supreme Court of Cassation Monday quashed a judgment of the Sofia Appellate Court which recognized the State as the owner of the Tsarska Bistritsa residence. The judgment is unappealable. The Supreme Court ruled against the State in its long-standing dispute with the former king and prime minister of Bulgaria between 2001 and 2005, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, and his sister Maria-Luisa Chrobok, stating that the residence was paid for by their grandfather, King Ferdinand I, with his own money. The Regional Development Ministry as a representative of the State cited three grounds for its claim. First, it claimed that the State owns the forests under the Forestry Act of 1897. However, the court stressed that this and later acts of Parliament differentiated between state-owned, municipal and private woodland. There are documents proving that Ferdinand I started buying land in the area in 1901 and it was referred to as “the King’s private forest”. Second, it claimed that the Intendancy of the King’s Civil List acquired the residence by prescription after possessing it for 30 years, therefore the estate should go to the State after the Intendancy was abolished. The court argued that the Intendancy was authorized to look after Ferdinand’s property after his abdication in 1918 and it could not have acquired the residence. Third, the State claimed ownership on the grounds that the estates of King Ferdinand I and King Boris III were confiscated by law in 1947. However, in 1998 the Constitutional Court said that law was voided by the adoption of the new Constitution in 1991. The State must pay Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha 18,897.5 leva and Maria-Luisa Chrobok 62,354.74 leva in legal costs. This is the first property case in which the court has ruled in favour of the heirs to the royal family. The State has won three property cases. Two more disputes – for the Vrana palace and for forestland in Mount Rila – are still pending. RI/DD /МЙ/