Slovakia: Demolition of building in Romani settlement cancelled
The demolition of an illegally-erected building in a Romani settlement in the village of Krásnohorské Podhradie in eastern Slovakia which was to have become a precedent for similar constructions throughout the country has been delayed. Authorities have overturned a decision taken last year by the municipality which was to have formed the basis for getting rid of the so-called "black building" owned by the Darvaš family.
Mayor Peter Bollo informed the Czech News Agency of the cancellation today. The case drew media attention after Marian Kotleba, the leader of the Slovak neo-Nazis who is now Governor of the Banská Bystrica Region, became a co-owner of the land on which the building is located.
The Darvaš family, which has lived in the house on what is now Kotleba's land for roughly 18 years, did request legalization of the construction after the fact but never submitted the documents required during that proceedings. Last June the Building Works Authority instructed the owner to demolish the construction within one year.
The Darvaš couple appealed that decision, pointing out that the authority had made procedural errors. The Regional Building Works Authority has now overturned the decision to demolish the construction and returned the case to the municipality for a new proceeding.
Bollo presumes it will take the municipality several months, not weeks, to issue a new decision. The Darvaš family has requested legalization of the construction once more in the interim.
The mayor says there are roughly 150 homes erected in the Romani settlement without permission on plots that are owned by individuals, by the municipality, and by the state forestry service. "No one wants to touch this problem. We are now resolving something with a 25-year past," the mayor complained, pointing out that the authorities should have dealt with the illegal constructions when their inhabitants first began building them on other people's land.
The municipality is currently conducting 50 proceedings for legalization of the constructions in the local settlement. The private owners of the land are complaining that they cannot make use of their property even though they pay tax on it.
Boll believes the state might ultimately provide alternate land to the owners as compensation. The village of Krásnohorské Podhradie near Rožňava drew the attention of neo-Nazis after a fire broke out in 2012 at the local Krásná Horka Castle.
The fire, which traveled up to the castle from the surrounding brush beneath the mountain on which it sits, seriously damaging it, was reportedly caused by two local boys. Kotleba then acquired a share of a plot of land in the local Romani settlement as a gift from its original owner.
In 2012 Kotleba convened his supporters in the village with the aim of "clearing out" the settlement, but police did not let them in. The final decision on whether to demolish the Darvaš family home will be important for similar constructions around the country.
There are hundreds of settlements around Slovakia where Romani people often live in unsuitable conditions. Many dwellings have sprung up without the relevant permits on plots of land not owned by those building them.
Official statistics report that around 105 000 Romani people live in Slovakia. In reality, however, experts believe many more Romani people live in the country than have been identified through the census.
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