A district court has ruled that the medieval House of the Blackheads guild building will remain in municipal hands and will not be returned to the guild's surviving members in Germany.
Tallinn District Court upheld the December decision by the Tallinn Administrative Court to annul a Cabinet order that the medieval guild building was to be returned to the members in Germany.
The administrative court rejected the government's appeal and awarded the city 1,296 euros for procedural costs, Anneli Vilu, a spokesperson for the court told uudised.err.ee today.
The verdict reached in December, and now upheld, does not close the case, only overrules the national government decision.
While many medieval guilds were abolished during reforms after Estonia gained independence in 1918, the Brotherhood of the Blackheads was officially recognized by the state, and remained the owner of the building until the Soviet occupation in 1940. That, in most cases in Estonia, would make the building subject to be returned to its prewar owners. But in the case of the guild building, historians have expressed concern that the value of a historical landmark could be jeopardized.
The court agreed in December that an organization registered in Germany, Bruderschaft der Schwarzenhäupter aus Reval, is the lawful successor to the Brotherhood of the Blackheads but stated that the Cabinet had not offered a reasonable evaluation explaining what the Brotherhood would use the building for, if returned.
The administrative court also found that the Brotherhood has not been significantly active in Estonia in the last 20 years and a further study would be needed to prove the guild is sustainable.
In 2006, Parliament handed the building over to the City of Tallinn, which spent 75,000 euros for repairs of a leaky roof and last year gave it to Tallinn Philharmonic to use for concerts.
The government has 30 days to submit a appeal to the Supreme Court.