Ten years after the floods wiped the Cotul Morii village from Hîncești district off the map, people still cannot do property deeds on the new houses, built by the authorities on a hill, next to the old village. The locals became collateral victims of litigation between the former mayor of Cotul Morii Village and the Town Hall.
In July 2010, the protection dam near Hîincești district yielded under the waters of the Prut River. The flood smashed Cotul Morii village in the Hincesti district entirely. Hundreds of houses and thousands of hectares of agricultural land were destroyed. The authorities decided to build a new town on a hill used for agricultural purposes, next to the flooded village.
While the houses were in construction, the former mayor of Cotul Morii Hall, Mihail Merzîncu, bought dozens of lots in the construction area. Following the local elections in June 2011, Mihail Merzîncu lost the mayoral seat. The Village Hall Council offered to the former mayor another lot of land to exchange for the houses’ land. Mihail Merzîncu refused the tender and came up with his requests, which were not accepted by the local administration. The conflict between Merzîncu and the Village Hall affected the locals. Because the land under their houses is in dispute, the villagers cannot officially register their real estate in their name, living on those lands illegally to these days.
The mayor buys more lots in the new village, built on arable land.
In December 2010, while the houses were in construction, the former mayor of Cotul Morii Hall, Mihail Merzîncu, bought dozens of lots in the construction area. Ion Brânză, the deputy mayor of Cotul Morii at the time of the floods, states that the mayor bought the land, knowing that he will not be able to use it for agricultural purposes.
Former owners had not yet been officially dispossessed of the land, and no prohibitions on alienation were imposed, making the transactions possible.
The mayor loses the elections and demands damages of about €1,736,000 (34 million MDL).
Following the local elections in June 2011, Mihail Merzîncu lost the mayoral seat. The Village Hall Council offered the former mayor another lot of land in exchange for the houses’ land. Mihail Merzîncu refused the tender and came up with his requests, which the local administration did not accept.
In February 2012, the Cotul Morii Hall Council approved compensations for the forced alienation of Merzîncu’s lands of about €33,500. Because they did not reach a consensus this time either, in July 2013, the former mayor sued Cotul Morii Village Hall, demanding compensation of up to €868,800. Over the years, Merzîncu’s claims have increased to almost €1,737,700.
At the beginning of 2020, the Hîncești Court partially admitted his request, forcing the Ministry of Finance and the Cotul Morii Local Council to pay him compensations of up to €81,700.
“Nobody has title documents on houses in our village.”
The lawsuit between Merzîncu and Cotul Morii Village Hall affected the locals. As their houses’ land is in dispute, the villagers cannot officially register their real estate.
“Nobody has title documents on their houses in our village. We live here illegally. We don’t even know whose houses are yet. While we are in trial, no one issues any documents,” says the local councilor Iulian Verdeș.
Member of Cotul Morii Council, Galina Bivol says that some villagers have already died without leaving their houses as a legacy to their descendants.
Mayor vs. Village Hall
In October 2019, Mihail Merzîncu became mayor again after an eight-year break, promising in the election campaign that he would solve the problem with house title documents. However, the Village Hall claims it was a promise in vain.
After he became mayor again, the dispute between Mihail Merzîncu and Cotul Morii Village Hall gained a new perspective. The same mayor will have to defend his interests and those of the Village Hall he leads.
“Only in Moldova can happen such a thing. He becomes mayor and is in a legal trial with the Village Hall. The Village Hall does not have the money he asked for,” stated Galina Bivol, the Hall Council’s member.
After many attempts to contact Cotul Morii’s mayor, ZdG managed to discuss with him on the telephone. We asked Merzîncu about the purposeful purchase of lands in 2010, while the government built the new houses. He told the newsroom that by buying the lands, he solved peoples’ problems. The mayor did not explain his answer thoroughly.