Slovenia court compensates first of many "erased"

Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:11am EST
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LJUBLJANA (Reuters) - A Slovenian court has awarded compensation to the first of several thousand people who lost their official identity after Slovenia became independent from Yugoslavia in 1991, STA news agency reported on Friday.

It said the district court in Ptuj, eastern Slovenia, awarded 17,000 euros ($21,400) compensation to Aleksandar Todorovic because he had not been allowed to work after his identity records were destroyed.

The Interior Ministry said last month that 25,671 people who had come to Slovenia from other states of the former Yugoslavia were erased from the official record in 1992 because they had failed to apply for Slovenian citizenship.

The new center-left government, which won an election in September, said it would give residency status to the "erased," as they are popularly known, in line with the demands of local and international human rights groups, but did not promise any compensation.

Since 1992 some 8,000 of the "erased" have acquired Slovenian citizenship, and many others have moved to other states of the former Yugoslavia.

Rights groups say about 4,000 people still have no passport or residence status and are struggling to gain access to schools, housing and health services.

(Reporting by Marja Novak; editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and Tim Pearce)