Judges hang on to stolen car

Posted on November 29, 2005 

Judges hang on to stolen car

Bulgarian judges have caused a diplomatic row after ordering a car stolen in Germany be used as their new ‘company car’.

The £30,000 luxury BMW X5 SUV was seized from a car thief by Bulgarian border officials in April.

But authorities have refused to hand it back to its original owner in Oldenburg, Germany.

Instead the car was judged to be the “proceeds of crime”, and confiscated so that it could be made an official vehicle for the judges of the court in the Bulgarian capital Sofia.

After involvement on behalf of the German ambassador to Bulgaria and a German MP the Bulgarian ambassador to Germany was ordered to explain the situation.

He has promised that Bulgaria’s PM, as well as Justice and Foreign Ministers have been informed and are working towards a solution.

Frank Schmitz, a German lawyer specialising in car theft, said that the situation with stolen cars taken from abroad in Bulgaria was getting “worse and worse” even though the country is due to enter the EU in 2007.

“I know dozens of such cases”, he said.

The Bulgarian Supreme Court has promised a review of the case in December.

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