The OSCE has confirmed that there have been many cases of Serbs’ property in Kosovo being sold off without their knowledge, often with forged papers and stamps.
“As they’re not there, displaced persons do not find out about these transactions until some time later,” states an OSCE report published in Priština yesterday.
Property is either sold illegally on behalf of the owner or is sold “in person” by the displaced owners from Kosovo, without their consent.
Sales are carried out using forged papers, leading to gross violations of human rights and constituting an obstacle to the return and restitution of property of displaced persons.
According to the OSCE Commission, there have been 70 such suspected cases.
The cases have been passed to the Kosovo Property Agency and are being dealt with before the Kosovo Commission for Property Applications.
The OSCE understands that in the majority of cases, the owners found out about the transactions by chance, once the transaction had been concluded and a new owner had been registered.
The OSCE has documented 40 reported cases in Peć, Klina, Istok, Đakovica and Dečani, while other cases have been reported elsewhere in the province.
In cases monitored by the OSCE thus far, the courts have found in favor of the plaintiffs five times and against three. The majority of cases have yet to be heard.
As is often the case with many other civil suits concerning property fraud, the suits quickly become bogged down in endless bureaucracy.
The OSCE believes that there are two ways to effectively prevent further incidences of property fraud.
The report states that this would be done “through criminal proceedings in order to prove the perpetration of criminal acts and bring to justice the culprits, or through civil proceedings in order to render the contracts null and void so that the claimants’ original conditions can be restored as far as that is possible.”