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Court: Bouzov castle remains state property

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Olomouc, North Moravia, Aug 24 (CTK) – Bouzov Castle in the Olomouc Region will remain the property of the Czech state, the district court ruled on Wednesday, rejected a lawsuit filed by the Teutonic Order that claimed the castle’s return within the church restitution.

The Teutonic Order filed a legal complaint against the National Heritage Institute (NPU), claiming the castle, including its furniture. The NPU refused to return it in May 2014, saying the order had no legal right to the property restitution in the Czech Republic.

The Olomouc district court rejected the complaint as unsubstantiated, judge Vit Jasek said on Wednesday.

“It has been proved during the court proceedings that the order was cancelled in 1939 and the decision has not been annulled as yet,” Jasek said.

The complainant has to cover the costs of the adverse party, the NPU, amounting to over 120,000 crowns.

“We will naturally appeal the verdict… We believe in justice,” said Mikkolas Cerny, the order’s media representative.

The Czech province of the Order of Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem or Teutonic Order has been striving for Bouzov Castle in court since June. It says the property was confiscate unlawfully during the Nazi occupation.

The NPU questions the property claims pointing out that the order was abolished by the Imperial commissioner’s decree in 1939 and that it did not exist on the Czech territory after WWII, while the restitution law applies to the property confiscated by the communist regime after 1948.

The court accepted the NPU lawyers’ arguments saying the complainant did not present a single piece of evidence to prove that the abolition of the order was a political persecution by the Third Reich.

The Teutonic Order demands the return of its property by other lawsuits as well. However, in reaction to the Czech Bishops’ Conference’s (CBK) appeal it decided to reduce the number of its lawsuits filed against regions.

Apart from Bouzov, Czech courts are dealing with the order’s claim for a church in Karlova Studanka, north Moravia, the order’s vicar, Metodej Hofman, said.

Bouzov is one of the most popular heritage sight in central Moravia. Last year, it was visited by almost 100,000 people.

According to the restitution law from 2012, churches are to be returned land and real estate worth 75 billion, confiscated from them by the communist regime, and given 59 billion crowns plus inflation in financial compensation for unreturned property during the following 30 years. Simultaneously, the state will gradually cease financing churches.

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