by Mirko and Dragica POPOVIĆ
The European Court of Human Rights (First Section), sitting on 15 January 2009 as a Chamber composed of:
Sverre Erik Jebens,
George Nicolaou, judges,
and Søren Nielsen, Section Registrar,
Having regard to the above application lodged on 25 May 2007,
Having regard to the formal declarations accepting a friendly settlement of the case,
Having deliberated, decides as follows:
The applicants, Mr Mirko Popović and Mrs Dragica Popović, are Croatian nationals who were born in 1949 and 1953 respectively and live in Knin. They were represented before the Court by Mr I. Škarpa, a lawyer practising in Split. The Croatian Government (“the Government”) were represented by their Agent, Mrs Š. StaZnik.
The facts of the case, as submitted by the parties, may be summarised as follows.
The applicants were the owners of business premises in Knin, a town located in the part of Croatia which was controlled by the occupying authorities from October 1991 until August 1995.
Following the military operation “Storm” in August 1995, by which Croatia regained control over almost its entire territory, the applicants left Croatia. It appears that shortly afterwards the local authorities sequestered the applicants’ property, as they considered it abandoned.
In October 1995 the applicants returned to Croatia and in the period between March 1996 and September 1997 on several occasions wrote to the relevant authorities asking that the property be returned to them. They received no reply.
On 16 December 1996 the Town of Knin, as lessor, concluded a commercial lease contract with the company T.H., as lessee, in respect of the applicants’ business premises.
In 1997 the applicants brought a civil action in the Knin Municipal Court (Općinski sud u Kninu) against the Town of Knin and the company T.H., seeking a declaration of nullity of the above lease contract, and recovery of their property. On 15 June 2000 the court ruled for the applicants. In the meantime, on 15 March 2000 the Town of Knin rescinded the lease contract in question, and by letter of 23 March 2000 informed the applicants that the property had been returned to them.
On 12 April 2000 the applicants brought another civil action against the Town of Knin in the Knin Municipal Court, this time seeking compensation for the use of their property. After a remittal, on 10 October 2002 the Knin Municipal Court dismissed the applicants’ claim. On 2 June 2003 the Šibenik County Court (Zupanijski sud u Šibeniku) dismissed an appeal by the applicants and upheld the first-instance judgment. On 25 October 2006 the Constitutional Court (Ustavni sud Republike Hrvatske) dismissed the applicants’ subsequent constitutional complaint and served its decision on their representative on 27 November 2006.
By letter of 31 October 2008 the applicants’ representative informed the Court that the applicants accepted a proposal for a friendly settlement and waived any further claims against Croatia in respect of the facts of the present application.
On 4 November 2008 the Government informed the Court that the parties had reached a settlement whereby the Government would pay the applicants jointly 3,600 euros in full and final settlement of the case, costs and expenses included.
The Court takes note of the friendly settlement reached between the parties. It is satisfied that the settlement is based on respect for human rights as defined in the Convention and its Protocols (Article 37 § 1 in fine of the Convention). Accordingly, the case should be struck out of the list.
For these reasons, the Court unanimously
Decides to strike the application out of its list of cases.
Søren Nielsen Christos Rozakis