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Widow wins fight for husband’s property confiscated by the police

Rummi v. Estonia  | 2015

Widow wins fight for husband’s property confiscated by the police

… the Court is bound to conclude that the confiscation of the gold and silver items and diamonds was an arbitrary measure …

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, January 2015

Background

Karol Rummi’s husband was a geologist. He had a valuable collection of precious metals. When he died, the rights to his property passed to Mrs Rummi and her two sons. However, the precious metals were confiscated by the police.

Mrs Rummi tried to get them back, but she was not allowed to make her case in court. She was told that the precious metals now belonged to the state and she would never see them again.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights

The court ruled that the authorities had violated Mrs Rummi’s right to property by confiscating the precious metals without a properly-justified reason. By refusing to let her make her case in front of a judge, they had also breached her right to access a court.

The Court reiterates that an oral, and public, hearing constitutes a fundamental principle enshrined in Article 6 § 1 of the Convention.

Judgment of the European Court of Human Rights, January 2015

Follow-up

Mrs Rummi and her sons were given compensation equivalent to the value of the precious metals taken from Mrs Rummi’s late husband. 

The Estonian parliament drafted legislation to make sure that similar problems would not happen again. It ensures that people are able to access a court in similar circumstances, to prove the property belongs to them and to recover it.


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