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Mayor Wants Illegal Gypsy Palaces Torn Down

Mayor Wants Illegal Gypsy Palaces Torn Down

Gaudy palaces suspected of being built by Romany criminal masterminds on the back of criminal gang activities in the UK and other European countries are facing demolition.

Authorities in Hunedoara, a city in central-western Romania, are threatening to tear down the so-called "gypsy palaces" dotting the region because all were built illegally, and many of them are safety hazards.

Police believe most were constructed on the back of illicit criminal enterprises abroad.

And now checks carried out this month by employees of Hunedoara City Hall revealed that more than 50 buildings in and around the city never had planning permission.

Some of those who raised their palaces around Chizid and Hadat were not even the rightful owners of the land on which they stand.

"The Court of Auditors recommended us to find a solution so that the owners of these properties comply to the law and pay taxes for them," said the mayor of Hunedoara, Viorel Arion. But he warned that the legal process of demolition could take a while.

The palatial neighbourhood of Hunedoara's gypsy palaces began to expand a decade ago and now includes a few dozen villas on both sides of the road on the way to the village of Calan.

The Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty are among the kitschy ornaments on the roofs of some.

"Drivers stop their cars next to the palaces and are always surprised by the fancy ideas that the owners dreamed up," said a man named Vasile, a neighbour of the Roma families.

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