Prague, Oct 29 (CTK) – The Prague appeals court definitively rejected the compensation claim filed by the descendants of Czech shoe magnate Jan Antonin Bata yesterday.
The five heirs claim a compensation of 56 million crowns from the Czech state for Bata’s property unjustly nationalised over his alleged collaboration with the Nazis, including a functionalist villa he had built for his family in 1920s and plots in the centre of Zlin, south Moravia.
Yesterday’s verdict by the Prague Municipal Court is valid. The parties in dispute can only file an appellate review with the Supreme Court.
The judge justified the verdict saying the right to compensation for damage was not transferred to the heirs.
According to the district court, “the complaint is an attempt at circumventing law,” and the appeals court apparently shared this stance.
The courts point out that the restitution law on the return of property confiscated unlawfully by the communist regime does not apply to cases before 1948 when Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia.
Robert Cholensky, defence counsel of Bata’s descendants, said the verdict was not persuasive. The case is not related to the restitution law, and the court did not take a previous verdict by the Constitutional Court (US) into consideration, he added.
“All people damaged by a decision of the public administration bodies are entitled to compensation,” he said, adding that his clients would probably file an appellate review. If they failed with it, they might turn to the US and possibly to international institutions, he added.
The lawsuit was brought by the five descendants who live in South America. The dispute lasted long as the court had to check whether the complainants were really Jan Antonin Bata’s relatives and thus authorised to file the suit.
Jan Antonin Bata (1895-1965) was a step-brother of Tomas Bata, founder of a large shoe-making plant in Zlin. After Tomas died in an air accident in 1932, Jan Antonin replaced him as the firm’s head. The firm and the town of Zlin flourished under his management. In 1941 he left for Brazil where he later died.
About 80 members of his family live in Brazil.
After the war, a Czechoslovak court labelled Jan Antonin Bata a traitor and collaborator in absentia and confiscated his property.
Bata was rehabilitated by courts in 2007. Archive documents showed that Bata’s firms had financially supported the wartime Czechoslovak exile government in London and sent tens of thousands of pounds or dollars to anti-Nazi actions.
Bata was also locked in lawsuits with other members of the Bata family over the shoe-making company’s foreign branches. However, he lost the lawsuits and the property went to Tomas Jan Bata, Tomas Bata’s son.