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News 17 Dec 15

Belgrade Court to Divide Up Tito’s Property

Lawyers said the court will finally decide early next year who should inherit the assets of former Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito, including valuable jewellery, precious stones and gold coins.

Sasa Dragojlo
BIRN
Belgrade
 Josip Broz Tito, former Yugoslaw president | Photo: Wikimedia commons

The long-delayed division of Tito’s property came a step closer on Wednesday when the First Basic Court in Belgrade went through all the evidence in an inheritance case which has dragged on for more than three decades.

“Today all the evidence received by the court was read and now we are expecting the court’s decision... probably at the beginning of the next year,” said Violeta Kocic-Mitacek, the lawyer for Tito’s heirs.

The heirs of the long-time ruler are his son Misha Broz and grandchildren Josip, Zlatica and Edward Broz.

Both they and the state are claiming the contents of a safe in the National Bank of Serbia which contains expensive furniture, stamp collections, gold coins, jewellery, precious stones and valuable watches, among other things.

Members of Yugoslavia’s former Karadjordjevic royal family are also participating in the inheritance discussion, demanding assets that they claim once belonged to the dynasty.

Their lawyer, Zoran Zivanovic, told BIRN that he was also expecting the final decision next year.

“It is hard to expect a decision within 15 days, because this is a very large court case and requires a lot of work,” Zivanovic said.

Josip Broz Tito and Haile Selassie, Ethiopianin emperor, in Koper in 1959 | Photo: Wikimedia commons

The judiciary has not succeeded in settling Tito’s estate since his death in 1980.

Some of his property, including villas and expensive cars, went to the states formed after the disintegration of Yugoslavia; some was stolen and the fate of the rest has yet to be decided.

The initial inheritance case was launched on the request of Tito’s now deceased son Zarko Broz in 1983.

Yugoslavia’s Fourth Municipal Court issued a decision on the division of the assets in 1989, but Jovanka Broz, Tito’s widow, refused to accept it.

The Constitutional Court in 2000 declared the law on the management of Tito’s assets unconstitutional and initiated the current court case, which is now coming to an end.

Tito ruled Yugoslavia from 1945 to his death in 1980, after leading the Partisan struggle during World War II, and some still view his time in office with nostalgia.

Because of his non-aligned diplomatic stance, he was also admired by many in the West as a benign dictator, and was praised for maintaining peaceful coexistence between the peoples of Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia was the only socialist country to successfully escape from the Soviet Union’s dominance, splitting with Stalin in 1948 to pursue a neutral foreign policy during the Cold War. The country fell apart just over ten years after Tito’s death in 1980.

American president Nixon and Josip Broz Tito with their wifes enroute to a dinner in President Tito's honor. | Photo: Wikimedia commons

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