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Court rules Opočno chateau belongs to state

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Hradec Kralove, East Bohemia, April 21 (CTK) – The Czech Renaissance Opocno chateau belongs to the state, the Hradec Kralove Regional Court decided on Thursday, turning down the appeal by Kristina Colloredo-Mansfeld, the heiress of the original owners, who challenged the same verdict of a lower instance court last year.

The dispute over Opocno has lasted since 1991.

Thursday’s verdict has taken effect, but the parties may still seek the Supreme Court’s (NS) appellate review of the case.

Colloredo-Mansfeld said she will carry on the dispute.

Originally, Czech courts turned Colloredo-Mansfeld’s claim down in the 1990s.

In 2000, the NS returned the case to the lower-level courts for new proceedings. The courts decided that the state should hand out the real estate, whose value some estimate at one billion crowns, to Colloredo-Mansfeld.

She took up the property’s management.

In 2005, the Constitutional Court (US) scrapped the previous verdicts. The case returned to the district court in Rychnov nad Kneznou, east Bohemia, which decided that the chateau belongs to the state.

The state resumed its management on April 10, 2007.

In 2014, the US complied with a complaint by Colloredo-Mansfeld and said the documents she submitted may ensure a verdict more favourable for her.

The reopening of the proceedings was ordered by the district and regional courts in Rychnov and Kneznou and Hradec Kralove, respectively.

Last year, the district court said the evidence submitted by the complainant could not lead to the conclusion that the confiscation of the chateau in 1942 was an act of racial persecution, which the US suggested.

The Opocno chateau was confiscated from the Colloredo-Mansfeld noble family by the Nazis, and after 1945 it went to the state based on a decree issued by then president Edvard Benes.

The Colloredo-Mansfelds claimed its return in court but after the communist coup in 1948 they emigrated to Austria.

“We believe that a wrong was inflicted in this case, even a double wrong. On the other hand, the Czech lawmakers showed the will to restitute selected wrongs that arose after the February 1948 [communist coup],” judge Dana Mazakova said on Thursday, referring to February 25, 1948 as the deadline set by the restitution law.

Milos Hosek, who represented the National Heritage Institute (NPU) in the dispute, called the verdict correct.

“The conditions of the restitution law have not been met,” Hosek said and added that the complainant failed to prove that racial reasons were behind the confiscation in 1942.

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