Court to set damages for former royals

The European Court of Human Rights is to announce tomorrow its decision on the compensation that three members of Greece’s former royal family must receive for their property. But government sources said yesterday that this amount will be nowhere near the 494 million euros that the former king, Constantine, his sister Irene and their aunt Ekaterini have asked for. The ECHR ruled on November 23, 2000 that the Greek State had violated the applicants’ right of property, following the passing of Law 2215/1994 which came into force on May 11, 1994. The State became the owner of the former royal family’s movable and immovable property without there being any provision for compensation in this law, it found. The law also demands that members of the family assume surnames, which Constantine has refused to do. Government sources told Kathimerini that tomorrow’s decision is not expected to differ in substance from that of November 2000. In other words, it will accept the basic Greek argument that the property was confiscated for the public benefit and as part of the transition from a monarchy to a republic. The court is expected to counter that the principle of acting in the public benefit did not take heed of the violation of property rights. A Greek and a Slovenian judge, who were the only two of the court’s 17 members to disagree, argued that the European Convention on which the ruling was based was dealing with private property and not that which was related to a monarchy. The court considered that the contested properties, namely the Tatoi, the Polydendri and the Mon Repos estates, were owned by the applicants as private persons rather than in their capacity as members of the royal family. The court decided, however, to take into account the privileges and tax breaks that the royal family had enjoyed. The opposition New Democracy party described the fact that the Foreign Ministry had made public a chronology of events in the case as «an effort to prepare public opinion for a new disastrous failure which will burden painfully Greek taxpayers.» A referendum abolished the monarchy in 1974.

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