The European Court of Human rights on Tuesday ruled that Simeon Sakskoburggotski, the last reigning monarch of Bulgaria, and his sister Maria-Luisa Borisova Chrobok, will not have two properties — a hunting lodge and a summer residency — restituted to them.
All crown properties in Bulgaria were transferred to the state following the Communist takeover In 1947. Sakskoburggotski and his sister wanted their former properties restituted to the crown after a ruling in 1998 found the previous transfer contrary to the right to property.
Sakskoburggotski, who was tsar from age 6 to 9 and prime minister from age 64 to 68 (from 2001 to 2005), won back other properties in Bulgarian courts, such as the Vrana palace in Sofia. But the Strasbourg court rejected his and his sister’s claim to two smaller estates: The Sitnyakovo summer residence on the Rila mountains and the Saragyol hunting lodge.
In its ruling, the court says — among other reasons for rejecting the claim — that a country isn’t obligated “to restore property which was transferred to them before they ratified” in line with the European Convention on Human Rights.
Although the court rejected the property claims, it took issue with a ban on commercial exploitation of the forestland returned to the family. It ruled that the measures taken by the Bulgarian authorities had been “extraordinary” given the already existing legislation on forest conservation, and they had been “disproportionate and had imposed an excessive individual burden on” the former king and his sister.
The state of Bulgaria will have to pay Sakskoburggotski €5,000 for costs and expenses, according to the court verdict.