Czech-German Joint Investigation Team Established for Killing East German Refugees on the Border of the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic

Prague, 5 August – Murder has no statute of limitations and this is especially true for soldiers and former politicians, a German state prosecutor’s office in Weiden and a federal criminal office in Munich (LKA) said in a press release on 26 July. Based on a bilateral agreement, the Joint Czech-German Investigation Team was established in June and it is working to investigate the killing of East German refugees at the borders of former Czechoslovakia. The first working meeting of the JIT took place on 25 July in Weiden; the next one will take place this week in Prague. German Attorney General Christian Härtl expects cooperation to speed up the investigation, which has been underway since December 2017 on the German side on the basis of a complaint filed by the Platform of European Memory and Conscience.

The joint team was formed because the Platform filed a similar criminal complaint in cases of killing of refugees of various other nationalities on the border of the CSSR to the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office in Brno, which referred the matter to the relevant investigative bodies in the Czech Republic. Both criminal complaints involve perpetrators from the same structures of the Border Guard and the leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, including both surviving members of the Communist Party Central Committee, Lubomir Strougal and Milos Jakes.

The German team consists of two prosecutors and six investigators from the Federal Criminal Office in Munich. The Czech side is represented by the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office in Brno and the District Public Prosecutor’s Office in Prague 1.

German investigators are also making contact with former refugees – GDR citizens who were caught while trying to cross the border of the CSSR to the West and who have been successfully rehabilitated by the courts in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the last two years on the basis of a call from the Platform.

The Platform of European Memory and Conscience filed a criminal complaint against the killing ofGerman refugees from the former GDR in August 2016 (see here: Bavarian state criminal investigation office Munich starts investigating killings of German refugees on the Iron Curtain in former Czechoslovakia).

The Platform filed a similar submission for 28 killed refugees in September 2017 with the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office in Brno (Platform files criminal complaint against last surviving Czechoslovak politburo members Jakeš, Štrougal, Colotka and further persons for killing on the borders)

In November 2017, the Platform called on former GDR citizens who tried unsuccessfully to escape from the Eastern Bloc through Czechoslovakia before 1989 to apply for rehabilitation at the local courts. (more here: Call on former East German refugees arrested in Czechoslovakia until 1989 to apply for rehabilitation and compensation).

In cooperation with the lawyer JUDr. Lubomír Müller, to date, 26 people have been rehabilitated and twelve cases are still pending.

Press release of the Bavarian LKA here.

Contacts