First rehabilitation in the Czech Republic for German who attempted to escape across the Iron Curtain

Prague, 11 May 2018. The District Court in České Budějovice (South Bohemia) has released a breakthrough decision for a former East German refugee who was arrested in 1976 trying to illegally cross the border between Czechoslovakia and Austria.

East German refugee Mr Dieter Kolbe illegally entered Czechoslovakia in 1976 and was arrested on a train by a Border Guard patrol near Lake Lipno. He was interrogated by State Security and held in prison for 12 days. Later on he was released to the German Democratic Republic and he was sentenced to 2 years in prison for attempting to escape the state. Prior to that he had applied several times to the East German authorities to legally move to West Germany where the rest of his family lived.

Today’s court decision, which is based on Act No. 119/1990 on judicial rehabilitations, confirmed unlawful restrictions on individual liberties and stated that his arrest was against the principles of a democratic and legal state.

The Platform of European Memory and Conscience called in November 2017 on former East German refugees arrested in Czechoslovakia up to 1989 to apply for rehabilitation and compensation (see more here).

These activities are a part of the Platform’s JUSTICE 2.0 project.

“This verdict following last year’s decision of the district court in Bratislava I is an important step forward on the path to achieving justice for the victims of Communism. I am proud that the Platform is playing an important role in this process, says Dr. Łukasz Kamiński, President of the Platform of European Memory and Conscience.



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