Tories' hopes dashed over huge will bequest

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LONDON, Oct 15 (Reuters) The Conservative Party failed in its bid to secure access to a multi-million pound bequest when a judge ruled today the benefactor had been deluded.

Branislav ''Bane'' Kostic, who died aged 80 in 2005, was not of sound mind when he wrote his will, Mr Justice Launcelot Henderson ruled in the High Court.

The Belgrade-born millionaire who emigrated to Britain in 1964 had cut his only child out of the will in favour of the party, the court had heard earlier.

The trading company tycoon had thought former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher ''the greatest leader of the free world in history'' who would save the world from ''satanic monsters and freaks'' conspiring against him.

The judge ruled that he lacked the ''the proper appreciation'' when he cancelled an earlier will that left an 8.2 million pound fortune to his 50-year-old son Zoran -- a bequest now believed to be worth more than 10 million pounds.

The changes to the will had happened because Kostic was mentally ill.

''His natural affection for Zoran had been poisoned or distorted by his delusions to such an extent that he was wholly unable to dispose of his property in the way which he would have done if of sound mind,'' the judge added.

During a July hearing, Zoran had claimed his father lacked so-called testamentary capacity to write the will because of his paranoia.

Zoran, who lives in Edinburgh, admitted in court that he had grown apart from his father in the mid-1980s.

The Conservatives had argued that Kostic was indeed estranged from his son because he had been disappointed with Zoran's career choices.

He also had a ''great and long-standing affection for the Conservative party and ... Mrs Thatcher''.

The court heard the millionaire, the son of a delicatessen owner, had made his fortune in Britain and Switzerland.

His company, Transtrade, had prospered dealing in pharmaceuticals and precious metals in the 1960s and 70s.

After the ruling, a Conservative spokesman declined to comment on the judgement directly but noted the money had never been actually been transferred into party coffers pending the court case.

REUTERS SKB HT1922

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