Saturday, 19 April 2014

Pezold challenges Prince Schwarzenberg's heirship

22 November 2012

Brno, Nov 21 (CTK) - Czech courts will have to reconsider whether Prince Karel Schwarzenberg is the heir of the Hluboka branch of the Schwarzenberg family because the Constitutional Court Wednesday upheld Elisabeth Pezold's claim challenging her adoptive brother's right of inheritance.

When Austrian judiciary decided on the Schwarzenberg family's property in the past, it based its decisions on the testaments of Adolf and Heinrich. Czech courts later ruled that the Austrian verdict saying Karel Schwarzenberg is the heir is binding also on the Czech Republic.

But the Constitutional Court concluded Wednesday that the Czech judiciary violated Pezold's right to judicial protection.

Pezold's father Heinrich Schwarzenberg made his nephew Karel Schwarzenberg his adoptive son in 1960 so that Karel could be the heir, preferring him to his own daughter Elisabeth Pezold. Under the Schwarzenberg family rules, only a man can head the family and have the title of prince.

Heinrich was an heir of Adolf Schwarzenberg, whose Czech property was nationalised in 1947 under a law dubbed Lex Schwarzenberg, whose abolition the Pezold family has been seeking.

Pezold appreciated Wednesday's verdict.

Her lawyer Petr Meduna said it is a moral satisfaction for the previous negative verdicts and an opportunity to again claim her rights in the inheritance proceedings from which she was unrightfully excluded.

Lawyer Petr Vyroubal, who represented Schwarzenberg, said Wednesday's verdict had no direct influence on the property relations. Pezold will only be able to repeatedly use her arguments, he added.

The dispute will return to the district court in Ceske Budejovice, south Bohemia.

Constitutional judge-rapporteur Ivana Janu said the court should either make Pezold another participant in the proceedings, apart from Schwarzenberg, or clearly explain why she should not participate in it.

The Czech inheritance dispute mainly concerns a vault of the Schwarzenberg family in Domanin, south Bohemia. The rest of the vast property that the Czechoslovak state confiscated from the noble family in 1947 cannot be returned under Lex Schwarzenberg.

When Heinrich Schwarzenberg died in 1965, Karel got three-fourths and Elisabeth one-fourth of the large family property, including mansions, chateaus and land.

Pezold has failed to win any of her property restitution disputes so far, except her claim of the Domanin family vault, which, however, was no genuine restitution. She has repeatedly sued the Czech state and her cousin.

The other branch of the Schwarzenberg family, known as Orlik branch, gained its former Czech property back in the 1990s. This property includes the Orlik chateau, the Cimelice mansion, the Drevic chateau, other mansions, farm buildings, forests, fields and ponds.

Karel Schwarzenberg, who is now Czech foreign minister and chairman of the conservative TOP 09 party, is an heir of the Orlik branch, too.

Pezold, 65, argues that her cousin and adoptive brother Karel Schwarzenberg, 74, had not sought the return of the family property, worth some 40 billion crowns and including the Hluboka and Cesky Krumlov chateaus in southern Bohemia, by which he violated the testament of her father Heinrich.

The property dispute between Pezold and Schwarzenberg also concerns large real estate in Germany and Austria, for example the Schwarzenberg chateau in Bavaria, the Schwarzenberg Palace in Vienna and the Murau chateau in Styria.

In November, the Austrian Supreme Court ruled that Karel Schwarzenberg remains the owner of this Austrian and Bavarian real estate.

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