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Czech gov’t to buy Lety pig farm for CZK 450 million

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Prague, Oct 23 (CTK) – The Czech state will pay 450 million crowns for the pig farm in Lety, south Bohemia, situated at the site of a wartime Nazi internment camp for the Roma in Lety, the government announced on Monday, releasing the purchase contract with AGPI, the farm’s owner.

The outgoing centre-left government of Bohuslav Sobotka (Social Democrats, CSSD) approved the purchase in August.

Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said the contract with AGPI should be signed as soon as possible.

AGPI board deputy chairman Jan Cech said the contract is to be signed next week.

Finance Minister Ivan Pilny (ANO) said he did not take part in the vote on the contract because the price was excessively high. The estimated price was around 200 million crowns, he said.

“I am very glad that the issue has been solved because it lasted very long and something had to be done about it also with regard to the international reactions. But I supposed that the price would respect the court estimate, which did not happen,” Pilny said.

Herman said it was the public interest to buy and remove the farm from the site of the former camp.

“I am very happy that we managed to cope with this burden of the past after 20 years. I consider the price a correctly negotiated sum that corresponds with all the parameters,” Herman said. The price included the public interest, he added.

AGPI had no reason to sell its pig farm and the state had to persude the firm, Herman said.

The state will pay 450,815,000 crowns, VAT included. Without VAT, the price is 372,574,000 crowns.

According to previous information, the pig farm is to end its operation within a few months. A Roma Holocaust memorial is to be built at the site in the next few years.

The farm’s purchase was discussed for two decades. Roma organisations have been striving for the pig farm’s relocation for years. The European Parliament (EP) as well as other international organisations have called on the Czech Republic repeatedly to remove the farm from the commemorative site.

AGPI shareholders are yet to approve the purchase at a general meeting. The purchase contract will take effect in the beginning of next year and AGPI is to hand the farm without the pigs at the end of March, Cech said previously.

Minister Vladimir Mlynar said in 1998 that a court estimated the value of the farm at 50 million crowns, while the market price according to the owners was 140 million, but the owners demanded 300 million. President Milos Zeman recently said he had refused to remove the pig farm when he was prime minister (1998-2002) because it would have cost the state about 400 million crowns.

Zeman also said a prospering firm should not be liquidated. He said earlier that a number of people would lose their jobs due to it. However, Herman said the farm had only eight employees.

AGPI has about 13,000 pigs in 13 buildings in Lety.

AGPI originally preferred to swap the Lety facility for a pig farm in another location, but it accepted a financial compensation this year. The farm is owned by AGPI, but the land belongs to the state.

The labour camp in Lety was opened in 1940. A similar facility existed in Hodonin u Kunstatu, south Moravia. In 1942, both facilities turned into internment camps and in August of the same year, Roma camps were established there.

Until May 1943, 1308 Roma men, women and children were interned there, 327 of whom perished in the camp and over 500 were sent to the extermination camp in Auschwitz where most of them died. According to estimates, the Nazis murdered 90 percent of Czech Roma people.

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