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LN: Czechs should solve Iron Curtain crime along with other countries involved

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Prague, Aug 9 (CTK) – The Czechs are incapable of adequately handling the still unpunished cases of the Cold-War killings along the Iron Curtain, and they should probably deal with them jointly with the other countries involved, Ludek Navara writes in daily Mlada fronta Dnes (MfD) on Tuesday.

Navara says he and several other journalists lodged a criminal complaint in 2008 in the effort to provoke an investigation of selected Iron Curtain crimes.

He writes they wanted the new investigation to differ from the previous enquiries within which the law enforcement bodies focused on the cases of soldiers shooting at and killing civilians during their attempt to cross the Czechoslovak border westwards.

True, three soldiers and one military officer were convicted of these crimes after 1989. However, these convicts evidently were the culprits and victims at the same time. Were they really the only ones to bear responsibility for the lethal curtain? Is it correct to punish those in the lowest positions and leave their commanders and superiors unpunished? Navara asks.

Too many people were killed and too many suffered as a result of the persecution along the western border, including shooting and an electric fence, for the above “double approach” to it to be simply waved away, Navara writes.

The journalists who lodged the criminal complaint in 2008 were convinced that the prosecution should mainly target the people who sent soldiers to protect the Iron Curtain, decided on building the lethal wall and had it built, paid, maintained and supplied with lethal electric voltage until 1965, Navara writes.

In the period of 1961-1965 alone, under Lubomir Strougal as Czechoslovak communist interior minister, 33 people died at the electric fence. Many of them had no idea of what they can expect of it, Navara writes.

He refers to Franciszek Majcherek, a Polish man who died when examining the fence with a voltage tester for 220V, while its real voltage reached 6000V.

Now the police and state attorneys closed their assessment of the journalists’ eight-year-old complaint. They said they will punish no one anymore, since the culprits are dead or their deeds have got statute-barred, Navara writes.

By coincidence, the police made the decision shortly before the sad anniversary of the death of Hartmuth Tautz, a 19-year-old East German youth who was torn to death by Roby and Riso, the dogs the Czechoslovak border guards sent after him when he attempted to cross the Austrian border in Bratislava on August 9, 1986, Navara writes.

Tautz’s unnecessary death remains one of the never punished past atrocities, he writes.

Since Czech judiciary is incapable of coping with the deaths along the Iron Curtain’s Czechoslovak section, the suspected crimes should be dealt with by someone else. It seems advisable to solve the cases involving hundreds of deaths along the whole Iron Curtain jointly by the numerous states that shared the lethal curtain spanning from the Baltic to the Black Seas, Navara writes.

Except for Germany, justice has been sought quite lengthily in most of the countries involved. For example, in Slovakia, which was a part of the former Czechoslovakia, no one has ever been punished for the border killings, Navara says.

Can the recent response to the journalists’ complaint from 2008 really mean that the Czech search for justice is definitively over? he asks in conclusion.

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