Bulgaria Sued by European Court Over Asset Confiscation Cases

World » EU | May 29, 2024, Wednesday // 08:22
Bulgaria: Bulgaria Sued by European Court Over Asset Confiscation Cases

The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg has sued Bulgaria for its handling of asset confiscation cases, marking the country's first illegal asset forfeiture law. The court found that Bulgarian authorities failed to establish a clear link between the confiscated property and the crimes for which individuals had been convicted. Consolidating five separate complaints into a single case, the court highlighted concerns not only about the forfeiture proceedings but also about the excessive legal fees incurred by individuals during these processes.

Among the applicants were notable figures such as Atanas Mandev from club "777" and Petar Glavchev, father of rapper "Vanko 1". Glavchev, whose seven-story hotel in Plovdiv was confiscated following his conviction for pimping, did not pay the state fee of BGN 32,420. Instead, the debt was written off by the National Revenue Agency in April 2022 due to the statute of limitations. Mandev, on the other hand, repaid a debt of BGN 642 before it too was extinguished by the statute of limitations in 2022.

The Ministry of Justice defended Glavchev's case, asserting that the Bulgarian court had established a direct link between his criminal activities (human trafficking for sexual exploitation) and the acquired property, making the confiscation of his hotel consistent with the standards of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights.

However, other confiscation cases are slated for reopening, with the anti-corruption commission tasked with proving in court the connection between the crimes and the confiscated property. Should these cases fail in court, individuals may seek compensation under Bulgaria's State Liability Act. Yet, the prospect of pursuing legal recourse domestically could entail years of litigation, potentially leading back to the European Court of Human Rights.

Criticism has been directed at recent legislative amendments, particularly a provision in the Anti-Corruption Act that shields previous commissions from accountability and complicates the pursuit of claims for damages. This legislative oversight has raised concerns about Bulgaria's internal mechanisms for addressing illegal confiscation cases, prompting calls for legislative reform to rectify the situation.

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Tags: Law, court, Bulgaria, Strasbourg

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