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Bulgaria: Court ruling on ex-royal family complaint

Human rights judges have announced they will examine two property complaints lodged with the European court by the former King of Bulgaria and his sister.

However, in its 12 April decision, the court rejected the rest of the case brought by former royals.

The case Sakskoburggotski and Others v. Bulgaria (application nos. 38948/10, 55777/12 and 8954/17) concerns the former King of Bulgaria, his sister and five other members of the royal family, and their attempts to obtain the restitution of former properties of the Crown.

The European Court of Human Rights has decided to look into two complaints brought by the former king and his sister under Article 1 of Protocol No. 1 (protection of property) to the European Convention on Human Rights and Articles 6 § 1 (right to a fair trial) and 13 (right to an effective remedy) of the Convention.

These complaints centre, first, on a Parliamentary decision of 2009 imposing a moratorium on the commercial use and sale of properties which had been returned to the royal family and, second, on the domestic courts’ decisions recognising the State as owner of two of those properties, namely the Saragyol complex and the Sitnyakovo estate.

The court has given notice1 to the Bulgarian Government of these complaints, together with questions, and asked it to submit observations. The Court’s ruling in the case will be made at a later date.

In contrast, it dismissed the complaint brought by the former king and his sister as regards another property, the Krichim estate, finding that the national courts had rejected their restitution claims to the estate in detailed and well-reasoned judgments. The Court also dismissed the complaints brought by the five other members of the royal family, finding that they could not claim to be a victim of a violation of the European Convention. In particular, they had not shown that they had ever been in possession of or used the properties at issue or suffered any other disadvantage as a result of the 2009 moratorium.

The decision dismissing these complaints is final.

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