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Court scraps sentence for letters to Germany after 57 years

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Brno, May 18 (CTK) – The Czech Supreme Court (NS) cancelled on Wednesday a 57-year-old verdict that sentenced Wolfgang Stenzel and Elfrida Seidlova for supporting fascism and spreading ethnic hatred, which is how the communist judiciary assessed their exchange of letters with their relatives in West Germany.

The NS did not decide on their acquittal on Wednesday, however, which is why the case has to be dealt with by the state attorney again.

In 1959, the Czechoslovak regional court in Hradec Kralove, east Bohemia, sentenced Stenzel and his mother, Seidlova, to five and six years in prison, respectively.

It stripped the two of their civil rights and their property was seized by the state.

As a result of an amnesty, they served only a part of their sentences. Stenzel lives in Germany now, Seidlova is dead.

A complaint for their benefit was lodged by Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan (ANO).

The communist court said in its verdict that Stenzel and Seidlova were exchanging letters with the father and grandfather of Stenzel, to whom they reported “information – distorted in a hostile way – about the situation in our republic.”

The suspects knew that the postcards and photos from them will appear in “revanchist [German] magazines and calendars,” the court said in 1959.

The NS shared Pelikan’s opinion that the description of the offence in the old verdict is quite vague and general.

The file contains no evidence to see where and how the above information was to be used or misused in Germany, the NS stated.

The state attorney should theoretically try to complete the investigation of the case, which, however, is hardly feasible in view of the long period of time that has elapsed since.

Another alternative for the attorney in charge of the case, Stanislav Brunclik, is to halt the prosecution, which will probably be done, he said said.

Stenzel previously applied for rehabilitation in court but he missed the required deadline. As a result, the minister’s complaint was the last chance to achieve a remedy.

“I am glad that the present criminal order makes it possible to reopen old cases and remedy the blatant injustice committed by the former regime,” said Jiri Rosol, a lawyer who defended Seidlova.

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