The District Court in Trebinje ruled in favour of Lazar Butulija from Bileća and found that the Republican Administration for Geodetic and Property Legal Relations of Republika Srpska illegally seized his plot and planned to build solar power plants on it.
Written by: Andrijana Pisarević; Cover photo: RUGIP
Butulija is one of the many residents of Bilec villages whose property was confiscated by RUGIP for the needs of building solar power plants by the private company EFT Grupa. They complained that their land was taken away from them even though they opposed it and were not legally informed about their rights, which eTrafika wrote in detail in the article Trebinjska Elektro-Hercegovina takes away private land without compensation and the owner’s consent.
“The lawsuit is accepted and the contested act is annulled. RUGIP is obliged to compensate the prosecutor for the costs of the administrative dispute in the amount of 950 KM within 30 days and under the threat of enforcement. The prosecutor pointed out that there was a violation of rights and legal interests, because during the procedure no account was taken of his protection and it is not seen that the owner of the land was presented with the right to demand complete expropriation if his economic interest was violated or normal use was prevented”, the judgment states.
From the state of the case file, it follows that Republika Srpska submitted a proposal for the complete expropriation of immovable property, that the first-instance authority conducted the procedure, and with the participation of the parties and geodetic experts held an oral public hearing on the spot. It is also stated that the owners were shown the plots that are the subject of expropriation, that they declared that they oppose the proposal for the same and that they are expressly opposed to entering the property.
The obligation of RUGIP, that is, their representatives, was to inform the land owners of their right to request complete expropriation, if one part is excluded, and what remains for the owner does not leave an economic interest or leaves his passage blocked.
“At the request of the owner, RUGIP is obliged to expropriate the remaining part of the immovable property, if its previous existence has been prevented or significantly deteriorated on the remaining part or its normal use has been prevented. As the owner of the land has not explicitly stated whether or not he is seeking the expropriation of the remaining immovable property, a reliable conclusion cannot be reached regarding whether the plaintiff was actually warned and was presented with the content of that provision”, the judgment of this court states.
It is especially noted that the first-instance authority was obliged to act in such a way as to take into account the party’s ignorance regarding the law and rules of expropriation and that no damage should be caused to it.
“It speaks volumes for the prosecutor’s indolence, as the lawsuit points out, that he believed that his opposition alone would not lead to the expropriation of his family property and that the matter was ended with that”, the verdict states.
Banja Luka lawyer Din Tešić, who is the representative of Lazar Butulija, says that they succeeded in proving in court that in the expropriation procedure the parties are not properly informed of their rights by the Republic Administration for Geodetic Property Legal Affairs of Republika Srpska.
“The procedure itself is not sufficiently explained to the parties, as well as the consequences of giving up their certain rights. The court accepted the claim and annulled the decision. This is just one of the examples where the appropriation of private property is handled here contrary to the law through the expropriation procedure in favour of certain investors. It is absurd that the expert reports were ordered by the investors, and the experts were not appointed by the authorities, which is the rule, so the investors obviously have a lot of influence on the proceedings, which is prohibited”, Tešić told eTrafika.
He says that with the lawsuits for annulment of the decision of the Government of RS, which allows the taking of possession of the land before the payment of the land and the end of the expropriation process, they asked to establish that the request of the investor is also unfounded.
“The government has determined the early entry into possession of my clients’ plots in order to obtain a building permit, and it cannot be acquired by acquiring possession but only by acquiring ownership of real estate, so for these reasons this decision is illegal, which we will prove in court. We think that in this case the government should have made partners from the citizens of Republika Srpska and that they participate with the land in the investment of building a solar power plant in which they would be co-owners, and not that the land be taken from them at prices that do not meet fair compensation”, says our interlocutor.
Butulija, as we wrote earlier, is one of the owners of the field that was expropriated, and neither he nor his relatives were informed about it. Most of them found out about everything indirectly, through social networks, and then they all hired a lawyer to represent them in the proceedings against RUGIP.
His cousin Branko Butulija told us earlier that they tried to expropriate his land for the solar power plant being built by the private EFT Group, and that no one informed him about it.
“Private plots of land in the village of Skrobotno near Bileća, including mine of about 6,700 square meters of arable land, were expropriated and declared to be areas of national interest. I had no previous experience with this and I did not know if it could even be declared as private property, nor what the procedure was. One day, they published an invitation on social networks for the owners to contact them for a meeting and agreement. They didn’t even bother to call us personally, and I wouldn’t have found out if my children hadn’t seen it,” says Butulija.
He then explained that he still went to the meeting unaware that his land would be confiscated. He says that he was offered to sell at a price of 1.5 KM per square meter, and when he refused, they offered 3.5 KM. There was no public discussion, he claims.
“I also refused because I don’t want to sell that field, I’m not raising the price, I just don’t want to give it to anyone for any money. However, later I received a call from the Bileća RUGIP to give consent for the expropriation. I refused again, and then I received a notification that expropriation had been done and that it had been transferred to Republika Srpska in the land records. And they seem to have done it that way, first they transfer it to the state, and then the state transfers it to a private person. I think that anyone’s private land should not be touched, and I guess that is guaranteed by the Constitution. This is a pure fraud, they take away a square of arable land from us and give us compensation worth half a liter of oil or fuel”, says Butulija.
The construction of infrastructure for the production of electricity served as an excuse for the confiscation of numerous plots of land in the territory of Herzegovina, on which transmission lines were installed, water drainage tunnels or solar panels were installed, without their owners being informed of their rights, as well as in that they can demand that situations be resolved in a way in which they will not be harmed.
The Ministry of Energy and Mining of RS previously told us that in the area of the municipality of Bileća (village Skrobotno), the Government granted concessions for the construction of SE Bileća to the company “Energy Financing Team SE Bileća”, and that the expropriation procedure in this place, as well as in the area of Dabarski polje is managed by the Office of the Attorney General of Republika Srpska and implements the activities prescribed by the Law on Expropriation.
RUGIP told us that the expropriation procedure for the construction of the first solar power plant in the territory of the municipality of Bileća is being conducted at the request of the beneficiary of the expropriation of Republika Srpska.
“The proposal to initiate the procedure of expropriation of immovable property in the cadastral municipality of Zareče on the territory of the municipality of Bileća was submitted in accordance with the decision of the Government of Republi Srpska. Seven cases were filed, none of which were annulled, so no damage was caused by the said action. Of the seven cases of expropriation for the purpose of building the first solar power plant, five were concluded with a final decision, and four of them are in the out-of-court settlement procedure before the Basic Court in Trebinje. One case is in the appeal procedure before the second instance authority of this administration, and one case has been sent back for re-resolution and decision-making”, they said in RUGIP.