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International platform wants trial of communist crimes culprits

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Prague, Oct 13 (CTK) – The surviving perpetrators of communist crimes against humanity should be tried and punished, representatives of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience international group said at a discussion meeting in Prague yesterday.
Experts from the platform said dozens of people who are responsible for killing civilians in post-communist countries, including those attempting to cross the border of the communist Czechoslovakia, are still alive.
Czech Deputy Prime Minister Pavel Belobradek (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL), under whose aegis the discussion took place, said the crimes of totalitarian regimes must not be forgotten.
“Totalitarianism is evil because it denies the elementary principles of freedom. It denies justice, humanity,” said Belobradek.
“It is necessary to forgive but not forget,” he added.
Representatives of the Platform presented the results of a project aimed to identify the witnesses, victims and perpetrators of well-documented crimes against humanity.
The Platform head Neela Winkelmann said these crimes were committed by all communist regimes without any exception. Those responsible are still alive, as are the witnesses and victims. There are dozens, maybe hundreds of such people, she said.
The international team of researchers focused, for example, on the deliberate killing of people who tried to leave Czechoslovakia after the February 25, 1948 Communist coup.
The border guards shot at these people or had them caught by dogs trained for this purpose. Other people drowned or were killed by electric current while attempting to cross the border.
The experts say the identity of those who ordered such killing and are responsible for it can be clearly documented.
The “chain” of those responsible starts with the decision of the Communist Party’s Central Committee (UV KSC), continues with the respective interior ministers and their deputy ministers in charge of the border guards and finishes with the border guards’ commanders, the Platform’s study says.
It says trial should be faced by people such as former Czechoslovak prime minister Lubomir Strougal (in office 1970-1988), now 90, who was interior minister (1961-1965), and former UV KSC general secretary Milos Jakes (in office 1987-1989), now 93.
Winkelmann said the investigation of the communist crimes on the national level often fails also because the judiciary still includes people linked to the former regime.
On the international level, no tribunal has been established to try the crimes of communist regimes, she said.
That is why the Platform has since 2012 sought the establishment of a new international institution that would try and convict the perpetrators of international crimes of communism.

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