Friday, 30 October 2020

Communist leaders face complaint for killing people at border

22 September 2017

Brno, Sept 21 (CTK) - The Platform of European Memory and Conscience filed on Thursday a legal complaint against the last living members of the former Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSC) leadership who were responsible for killing people at the communist country's border, the platform head has told CTK.

The platform filed the complaint against Milos Jakes, Lubomir Strougal, Peter Colotka and other former members of the KSC Central Committee's (UV) presidium with the Supreme State Attorney's Office in Brno, its director Neela Winkelmannova said.

The legal complaint refers to 28 cases of civilians of various nationalities who were killed or died in another way on attempting to cross the communist Czechoslovakia's border with West Germany and Austria in 1965-1989.

They were killed by electric current and shot dead or they died in a plane that was shot down or in a car while attempting to cross the border. Some of them committed suicide after the border patrol surrounded them.

This is another effort to achieve justice after the Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism (UDV) shelved the investigation into a similar initiative from 2008 without any result, Winkelmannova said.

The platform's representatives say they hope the new complaint will be more efficient.

"We want the law-enforcement bodies to assess these crimes as crimes against humanity that are not statute-barred," Winkelmannova said, adding that the European Human Rights Court had already classified killing people at the border as crime against humanity.

Czech courts have already convicted four people of these crimes, but all were lower-level officials. Two of them were given suspended and the other two prison sentences.

"However, the whole chain of the leadership and the responsible persons who had 'constructed' the regime were totally neglected," Winkelmannova said.

She added that no one had been convicted of killing people along the communist border in Slovakia.

The platform experts found out the people responsible in the case of the border victims in the command chain, from the border patrols, through the Border Guard command, the interior ministers and their deputies to the UV KSC presidium members - some 100 people in total.

The platform has newly found the UV KSC presidium's documents proving the direct responsibility of its last living members for the decision-making on the maintenance and improvement of the border protection system, the platform says.

The platform thereby wants the Czech Republic to become the second European country, after Germany, to convict the perpetrators on all levels of the command and political representation of the totalitarian state who were responsible for killing civilians along the iron Curtain.

The platform considers this a significant contribution to the moral purging of the post-totalitarian democracy.

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