France was wrong to let farmer to squat land: European court
Europe's top rights court on Thursday criticised France after officials failed to evict a farmer who continued to occupy land 18 years after he sold it, because they feared he might be violent.
A property company purchased farmland in the southeast region of Alpes de Haute-Provence in a 1992 auction with the intention of developing it, but the former owner refused to leave.
In 1994, the local prefect refused to use force to evict the farmer, because the man was known to be armed and his wife was seriously ill.
Similar eviction requests in 1997, 1999, 2002 and 2005 were also denied.
In its judgment, the European Court of Human Rights said authorities should have taken the necessary measures to ensure the respect of ownership rights given the timescale of the complaint.
The court ordered France to pay 112,000 euros in compensation.
The farmer, who is 65, continues to occupy the farmhouse and his wife died in 2005, the mayor of the town of Lurs told AFP.
© 2010 AFP