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Bulgaria Court Postpones again Former Tsar Ownership Case

Date: 20.10.2009

The District Court in the city of Plovdiv decided Tuesday to postpone for December 1 the so-called "Krichim palace" ownership case.

The case involves Bulgaria's former Tsar, and former Prime Minister, Simeon Saxe-Coburg, and his sister Maria Luisa, who seek to regain ownership on the former Krichim royal residence.

The latest postponement came after the land appraiser, Maria Mihailova, asked for more people to join her team, namely a forestry expert over her find that 100 decares or one third of the 371 decares of lands claimed by the royal family are part a forest. The magistrates fulfilled Mihailova's request and ruled that an expert from the Agriculture Ministry is hired to appraise the woods of the property.

Simeon's attorney, Eli Hristova, asked for a list of experts of the Ministry in order to avoid possible conflict of interests.

Last week the authorities issued several penalties over the reported mass felling of the woods in the disputed property, something Hristova firmly denied and said she was going to file a defamation suit. On Tuesday she recanted and stated she was still considering what the best action would be regarding the penalties.

The State is represented by Vladimir Petrov, who reiterated Simeon and his sister do not have any right to claim the Krichim palace because it has been built on land owned by the commissariat to serve the royal family, adding the country was then a monarchy and properties were inherited from one tsar to the next one, but not from private person to a private person.

The civil case is the first legal trial for the restitution of royal property, which was launched after the then regional governor Todor Petkov refused to restore the Krichim residence to Simeon-Saxe Coburg and Maria Luisa.

The governor claimed that the papers they provided to prove rightful ownership of the land do not coincide with the data in the municipal archives.

The former Tsar, who was forced to flee in 1946 after the communist takeover, returned to Bulgaria in the late 1990s, when the family property was handed back.

He then won the parliamentary polls in 2001 on the strength of his name alone in his first foray into politics, making some audacious promises in the process.

He spent four years as Prime Minister, failing to deliver on most of them, but his party still managed to win enough votes to become an important force in the current legislature and part of the ruling coalition.

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