Thursday, 17 January 2019

HN: Court not to return plots to Liechtenstein family

ČTK |
13 November 2015

Prague, Nov 12 (CTK) - The Liechtenstein noble family has no right to the 600-hectare plots near Ricany in the vicinity of Prague since their return would violate the restitution laws, a district court has ruled, Hospodarske noviny (HN) writes yesterday.
The Czech state has filed a legal complaint claiming the plots back. It argued that the foundation of current Liechtenstein Prince Hans-Adam II gained them as inheritance over a mistake in the land register, HN says.
The vast property of the Liechtenstein family, including the UNESCO-listed complex of the Lednice and Valtice chateaux and park, south Moravia, was confiscated after WWII since the owner, Prince Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein, had allegedly adhered to German ethnicity.
The Liechtensteins have always declined it and they have not recognised the confiscation of their property in the Czech Republic. However, they have never officially claimed its return in a lawsuit.
The current dispute was enabled by the fact that some clerks had not always marked in the land register the property confiscated by the state on the basis of the post-war Benes degrees that provided for the confiscation of the property of collaborators, traitors, ethnic Germans and Hungarians, except for those who themselves suffered under the Nazis.
Three years ago the Liechtenstein family found out that Prince Franz Josef was still registered as the owner of almost 100 plots near Ricany. This is why the Liechtensteins applied for the inheritance and after a district court approved their claim, they had the plots transferred to the Prince of Liechtenstein Foundation in the land register.
The foundation then turned to the Lesy CR state forestry company administering the plots to take them over. However, the state filed a complaint against the change of the plots´ owner.
"Since the property of Franz Josef II of Liechtenstein was confiscated in 1945, none of his property that could be subject to inheritance can exist on the territory of the Czech Republic," Radek Lezatka, spokesman for the Office for Government Representation in Property Affairs, said.
The court verdict from Wednesday confirmed this stance. Judge Klara Obrtlikova admitted that the state had wronged the Liechtenstein family, but she said if the property remained in the foundation´s hands, it would violate the restitution laws.
The laws, passed after the 1989 collapse of the communist regime, enabled the return of the property unlawfully confiscated after the communists seized power in former Czechoslovakia in February 1948 to the original owners or their rightful heirs.
Consequently, the court did not assess whether the confiscation of the family´s property in 1945 was just or not.
The Prince´s foundation announced it would appeal the verdict.
"Prince Hans-Adam II never wanted to take the Czech Republic to court to demand the return of the real estate that were confiscated from his family in the 20th century. The foundation is now only reacting to the situation by its defence in compliance with Czech law," Michal Ruzicka, spokesman for the Liechtenstein foundation, told HN.
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