14 February 2007

Displaced Serbs, lawyers detail "fraudulent" sale of Serb property in Kosovo

BBC Monitoring Europe (Political) - December 5, 2006, Tuesday


Text of report by Ana Stevanovic: "Dead people 'selling' property" by Serbian newspaper Blic on 4 December


Belgrade, Pec - About 10 days ago, I learned by chance from an Albanian [from Kosovo] that was visiting Belgrade that my house in Pec has been sold. More particularly, he told me that he bought my property. I was stunned, because neither I nor anybody else in my family had given a power of attorney to anybody to sell our house and land in Pec, nor did we negotiate a sale with anybody, Dejan Simic, who has been living in Belgrade as a displaced person for the past eight years, told Blic.


Simic is just one of Serb refugees from Kosovo-Metohija (KiM) stripped of their property on the strength of forged documents. Houses, apartments, business premises, and land have been taken away in a similar way from the families Stankovic, Bojovic, Simic, Ivanovic, Lazovic, Dabizljevic, Mikic, Knezevic, Krivokapic, and so on.


Displaced Serbs would learn of the malversation by chance, mostly when they applied to the cadastral registers in their municipalities of origin for deeds of property, at which time they would learn that they had no property left on KiM territory.


Blic has learned that Serbian and Albanian swindlers are behind this criminal enterprise. It is suspected that they work in collusion with court clerks in Serbia and Montenegro that certify totally false documents purporting to show title to immovable property. The Serbian MUP [Interior Ministry] has been searching for some time now for a number of persons that were selling the property of displaced Serbs in this way.


Vladislav Raickovic, president of the Podgorica-based Hearth [Ognjiste] Association of Displaced People from Kosovo-Metohija, says that more than 50 Serb houses, apartments, estates, and business premises have been sold on the basis of forged powers of attorney on the territory of the Pec District alone.


"There are even papers according to which a Serb after his death 'authorized' an Albanian to dispose of his property. Also, it is glaringly obvious that data in a forged ID card of an alleged principal most often do not correspond to the actual facts about the person's year and place of birth, names of parents, or unique personal identification number. Another interesting point is that the powers of attorney are signed in the Latin script, which Serbs in Kosovo do not use," Raickovic says.


Milorad Mitic from Klina learned that his ancestral property was sold by one [Kosovo] Albanian to another on the basis of a power of attorney "issued" by his late father Velimir.


"My father died in Pristina in 1997 and the alleged power of attorney was certified in a court in Podgorica in 2003. I discovered the scam when a neighbour of mine, who wanted to buy our land, said that they had told him in the Klina municipal cadastral office that the land no longer belonged to me. I filed charges with the Klina court in May 2005, but there has been not a single hearing to this day. I do not believe that our courts can solve this problem. Perhaps international courts might do so, I do not know," Milorad Mitic says.


Lawyer Slavisa Vukosavljevic represents a number of Serbs whose property in the Vitomirica locality in the Pec area has been sold.


"I have filed lawsuits on behalf of clients with the Municipal Court in Pec, demanding that sales contracts made on the basis of fraudulent powers of attorney should be declared null and void. I have also filed charges with the Prosecutor's Office in Pec against the alleged buyers, sellers, and agents in these transactions. In the case of one of my clients, the Prosecutor's Office found that the buyer of his property had no case to answer, but indicted two alleged agents, Driton Gashi and Nusret Laiqi from Pec. Laiqi, posing as an authorized agent, appears in two other cases," lawyer Vukosavljevic says for Blic.


Bringing charges is no guarantee that the problem will be solved in the near future, as evident from the sluggishness of the provisional administration, courts, and UNMIK [UN Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo].


"When I send a letter to the Prosecutor's Office in Pec, it returns from Zvecan or Gracanica marked undelivered due to a postal traffic disruption. If I mean to accomplish anything, I have to go there in person with my client. Also, a hearing is liable to be cancelled without prior notice and without explanation," lawyer Vukosavljevic says.


He adds that the problem could be solved by the courts if they were to issue temporary orders banning further handling, mortgaging, or selling of immovable property. However, no such measure has been taken so far.


Source: Blic, Belgrade, in Serbian 4 Dec 06 pp 14-15