Ceske Budejovice, South Bohemia, May 10 (CTK) – A Czech court on Thursday rehabilitated a former East German citizen, Dieter Kolbe, whom the communist Czechoslovakia caught trying to emigrate westwards in 1976 and kept him in detention for 13 days before extraditing him home.

By detaining the man, the Czechoslovak communist regime unlawfully restricted his freedom, the court said.

This is the first such decision issued by a Czech court.

Kolbe, now 78, left Dresden, where he lived, on October 4, 1976. He illegally entered Czechoslovakia near the north Bohemian border town of Hrensko and continued via Prague and the south Bohemian centre Ceske Budejovice to the Austrian border.

A Czechoslovak border patrol detained him on a train in south Bohemia. He was taken into custody on October 5 and spent 13 days there.

Kolbe did not attend the court session on Thursday. His lawyer, Lubomir Muller, said the court decision on Thursday mainly means moral satisfaction for Kolbe, who, nevertheless, is also entitled to a financial compensation of about two euros per day in detention.

After his detention in 1976, Kolbe confessed to having wanted to emigrate. He said all his siblings lived in West Germany and he had repeatedly applied for a permit to move from the German Democratic Republic to the Federal Republic in Germany.

Czechoslovakia extradited him back to East Germany whose courts sentenced him to two years in prison.

Muller said there were hundreds of similar cases in Czechoslovakia and admitted that further victims from the former East Germany may also apply for a court rehabilitation.

In the foreseeable future, similar cases will be discussed by courts in Karlovy Vary, west Bohemia, and Prachatice, south Bohemia.

The rehabilitated victims’ possible compensation claims have been assessed and compensation has been granted by the Justice Ministry.

“The main wave of compensations based on the court rehabilitation law was in the 1990s when the volume of the applications was far higher. At present, the agenda is much slimmer, consisting of the last still unsettled cases,” Lucie Machalkova, from the ministry, told CTJ.

In 2017, the ministry received 72 applications for compensation from rehabilitated victims. It complied with 36 of them and paid a total of 724,000 crowns to the successful applicants.