June 28, 2005

Romania okays compensation to ex-King over castle

By Radu Marinas

BUCHAREST (Reuters) - Romania's parliament has cleared theway for former King Michael to receive 30 million euros ($36.37million) as compensation for a historic Carpathian castleseized by the communists six decades ago.

Picturesque Peles castle has become a popular tourist sitesince opening to the public after the fall of communism in 1989but it is at the center of a dispute between rival branches ofthe royal family.

On Tuesday, the lower parliament house approved thearticles of a bill under which Michael will receive thecompensation in instalments over a two-year period. The billbecomes law only after a final vote due on Wednesday.

In April, a parliamentary committee awarded the sum toex-king Michael, who abdicated in 1947 when Romania became acommunist dictatorship. The committee rejected a claim byPrince Paul, another member of the royal family.

Michael, 83, does not recognize his nephew Paul as a memberof the royal family.

Paul, who has fought a legal battle to establish his statusand is awaiting a final ruling by a Romanian court on whetherhe has royal rights, said he would appeal the parliamentdecision.

"The bill giving my uncle 30 million euros isunconstitutional. Nobody is above the constitution. It's notnormal to draft a law for a single person. We will appeal it atthe Constitutional Court," Paul said in a statement.

($1=.8248 Euro)