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Czech court says property owner must give squatter representative the keys to the Klinika building, for now

13.6.2016 8:17
An anonymous bomb threat on 24 May 2016 was the second in a week bringing police to the Autonomous Social Center Klinika in Prague. (PHOTO:  Jitka Votavová, Romea.cz)
An anonymous bomb threat on 24 May 2016 was the second in a week bringing police to the Autonomous Social Center Klinika in Prague. (PHOTO: Jitka Votavová, Romea.cz)

The Office for Government Representation for Property Affairs (ÚZSVM) in the Czech Republic must wait until the criminal justice authorities and the courts have completed their work and issued a decision in the proceedings that are open before taking any more steps regarding the building in the Žižkov quarter of Prague that is currently occupied by activists from the Autonomous Social Center Klinika. According to interim measures imposed by the court, the ÚZSVM is entitled to change the locks on the building but must still give the keys to the person who is borrowing it until the court cases are resolved.

ÚZSVM director Kateřina Arajmu made the announcement on 6 June after a meeting of the Prague 3 muunicipal security committee. The District Court for Prague 3 made its decision on Friday, 3 June and said the ÚZSVM must give working keys to the Klinika building in Jeseniova Street to the other party involved in the still-unresolved legal proceedings.

The interim measures concern a dispute between the ÚZSVM and Tereza Virtová, who represents the collective of people running the Autonomous Social Center Klinika. The measures instruct that the ÚZSVM is obliged to refrain from clearing out any movables from the building and is obliged to refrain from any activity that would attempt to de facto confiscate such movables until a verdict in the case involving the property takes legal effect.

The ÚZSVM is also obliged to refrain from preventing Virtová or anybody else from leaving their movables on the property. "The plaintiff is obliged to hand over to the defendant the keys to the property within three days from the execution of this decision," reads the decision on the interim measures.

"The ÚZSVM cannot take advantage of the bomb threats being made against Klinika to clear everything out of the building on their own," Virtová told the online Deník Referendum. The court did not, however, issue a decision on the issue of whether the ÚZSVM can prevent people from entering and leaving the property, as that question is the topic of a separate dispute that has yet to be ruled on.

The court rejected a proposal that would have prevented the ÚZSVM from exercising any control over the building, saying that to do so would violate its rights as the property owner. The dilapidated, state-owned building was squatted at the end of 2014 and the ÚZSVM subsequently loaned it to Virtová, the representative of the squatting activists.

"There is an interim measure that states that Miss Virtová can keep a key to the building and can leave her things there, but she should not enter the building," is how Prague 3 Mayor Vladislava Hujová (TOP 09) has interpreted the court's decision. The ÚZSVM changed the locks on the building recently after Klinika was evacuated due to the first of several anonymous bomb threats.

"Even though we properly secured the building, people forcibly entered it and occupied it and are there to this day," ÚZSVM director Arajmu said. She believes the ÚZSVM has already used all civil and criminal means available to them by law to address the issue.

"On the civil side we are waiting to see what the court decides... On the criminal side we are waiting to see how the preliminary proceedings turn out," Arajmu said.

The political leadership of Prague 3 convened its security committee meeting last Monday, claiming it is concerned for the security of citizens in the neighborhood due to the activity of the Autonomous Social Center Klinika. Hujová invited Czech Finance Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) and Czech Interior Minister Milan Chovanec (Czech Social Democratic Party -  ČSSD) to attend, but they did not.

During May, four anonymous bomb threats were made against Klinika. Police cleared the building during the first two incidents and then handed the building over to the ÚZSVM as the owner.

During the third and fourth such threats, however, police merely searched the building without clearing it. The building was initially borrowed by Virtová with the permission of the Government.

The center runs a café, community laundry and library there and holds concerts and lectures. The activists have repaired the building using their own resources and have refused to take subsidies from the local government or from any big sponsors.

The situation for Klinika escalated after it became the main organizer of donation collections for refugees in Prague last year. At the beginning of February this year the building was attacked by masked perpetrators on a day when demonstrations against migration were happening elsewhere in the capital.

In the past, hundreds of people have demonstrated in support of Klinika. Virtová's contract to borrow the building expired at the beginning of March and was not renewed by the ÚZSVM.

ČTK, jal, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Klinika, local authority, Trial, unrest



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