The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration (MFARI) has formally notified the Attorney General and Minister of Justice to take appropriate action on the encroachment of the Bulgarian Embassy property.
This follows the demolition of part of the Embassy by some developers.
A statement issued by the MFARI in Accra yesterday to set the record straight on the demolition which has created controversy, affirmed that the land in dispute belonged to the Embassy.
Giving the history of the property, it said the Bulgarian Embassy leased the subject property from the late Theophilus Kofi Leighton on February 1, 1979, which lease was extended from 1983 for 50 years.
It said the Embassy paid one million old Ghana cedis with the option of renewal for another 50 years which expires in 2033.
Upon the demise of the landlord, the statement said, the Administrator of the Estate of the late Kofi Leighton attempted to forcefully repossess the property over alleged non-payment of rent arrears by the Bulgarian Embassy notwithstanding the latter’s full payment for the lease to the late Leighton.
It said mindful of its obligations under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, 1961 concerning host states’ obligation to the inviolability of the premises of diplomatic missions, the Ministry summoned the parties to a meeting for an amicable settlement of the matter.
However, it said the Administrator of the Estate of the late Leighton, dissatisfied with the conciliatory approach of the Ministry at resolving the issue, went to the High Court with a writ for declaration of title to the property housing the Bulgarian Embassy; payment of accumulated rent arrears; and an order for ejection and recovery of possession of the property.
According to the statement, part of those reliefs were granted by the High Court, but upon appeal, the Court of Appeal reversed the High Court’s decision after which the case travelled all the way to the Supreme Court.
In its judgment, the Apex Court reaffirmed the holdings of the Appeal Court, dated July 21,2011, which overturned the decision of the High Court and affirmed the right of the Bulgarian Embassy in the leased property.
“The above judgment of the Supreme Court notwithstanding, the Successor of the late Leighton sold the leased property to a private developer who later encroached on it,” it said.
According to the statement, the Ministry, still committed to its obligations under public international law and upon being informed of the encroachment of the Bulgarian Embassy, invited the parties and their lawyers to a series of meetings in January this year to find a peaceful resolution to the dispute.
At those meetings, the Ministry referred the trespasser to the ruling of the Supreme Court which reaffirmed the right of the Embassy in the unexpired residue of its lease.
The parties were also encouraged to reach a mutually agreed settlement on the reimbursement of the amount of the residue of lease due the Bulgarian Mission with the aftermath being the demolition.
BY TIMES REPORTER