Victory for British Victims of Spanish Land-Grab; EU Rules That Property Laws and Human Rights Were Infringed

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Byline: PETER UPTON

BRITONS who lost their retirement homes in Spain under a controversial land-grab law were celebrating a victory last night.

Hundreds of expatriates on the Costa Blanca were forced to hand over their property under the policy, which gives local authorities the power to seize land for urban development.

Thousands more feared the same might happen to them.

But after an investigation by MEPs, the European Commission ruled that the Spanish government is infringing EU laws on property ownership and human rights.

It has given Spain until next month to end the practice or risk being brought before the European Court of Justice, which could impose heavy fines.

The ruling opens the way for compensation payments to those who have lost their land.

It is a triumph for Charles Svoboda, the former director general of the Canadian intelligence services who has been leading the campaign against the new law.

Developers want to take part of the garden of his property in Benissa, near Benidorm, and have drawn a new boundary line through his swimming pool.

He said: 'This infringement procedure by Brussels shows that the Commission is quite prepared to get tough and take Spain on.

'Now that they have said Spain is in breach of EU laws and the LRAU (land- Campaign: Charles Svoboda and his wife Lisa at their holiday villa grab law) is illegal, we are going to take on the mayors and town councillors who gave developers permission to use the law to deprive people of their homes.

'We are going to court to demand compensation and damages. The mayors know they are breaking the law and should be liable.

' We are also going to take cases to the European Court of Human Rights. …