Refund for runaway bride

Sofia - A traditional Roma court ordered a runaway bride's family to return the 40 000 leva ($24 500) that the abandoned groom has paid for her, local newspapers reported on Monday.

In a customary arrangement, the man had bought the 22-years old bride for that sum from her parents. She however appeared less of a traditionalist and ran away before the wedding.

A court of more than 100 senior Roma men from throughout Bulgaria conferred for hours and eventually ruled that the money must be returned.

The court mainly resolves family and not very well documented financial disputes among the Roma in Bulgaria. It is not official, but is faster and more fair than the real Bulgarian courts, they say.

The around 800 000 Roma, or Gypsies, make up more than 10% of Bulgaria's population. Most of them are not socially integrated and live in settlements on the outskirts of cities.

The isolation of the Roma is partly attributable to their poverty and prejudice they face, but partly also to their own reluctance to accept the rules and standards of modern-day life.

The purchasing of a bride is ONLY something that ever happens amongst Roma and not amongst the Sinti or Cale (Kale) and therefore, yet again, shows the differences between those Romani groups.