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Czech state chooses firm to appraise pig farm on concentration camp site

18.2.2017 9:21
Wreaths laid at the memorial at Lety by Písek, Czech Republic, on 10 May 2014 during the ceremony annually held by the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust, which is regularly attended by diplomatic representatives and survivors. (Photo:  František Kostlán)
Wreaths laid at the memorial at Lety by Písek, Czech Republic, on 10 May 2014 during the ceremony annually held by the Committee for the Redress of the Roma Holocaust, which is regularly attended by diplomatic representatives and survivors. (Photo: František Kostlán)

The Czech Culture Ministry has chosen a firm to produce an expert appraisal of the value of the pig farm at Lety u Písku located on the site of what was once a concentration camp. The B.S.O. expert institute of Prague will produce it and is being paid CZK 228 690 (EUR 8 463) inclusive of VAT to do so.

The state should have the appraisal available within two months. Czech Culture Ministry spokesperson Simona Cigánková informed the Czech News Agency of the deadline on 14 February.

The appraisal will be used for further negotiations with the owner of the farm. It will also be background material for the Czech Government proceeding with the state buying the farm, Cigánková said.

The AGPI company, which runs the farm, continues to prefer the option of having the farm moved to a different location. B.S.O accepted the commission on Friday, 10 February and must deliver its calculation of the price within 60 days, according to the ministry spokesperson.

The public commission is tasking the firm with assessing the value of the buildings, the equipment in them, and the land. The state has long attempted to acquire the location, which is connected with the history of genocide against the Roma.

Last autumn the Government decided to commission an appraisal. According to Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats - KDU-ČSL) the owners of the farm had admitted for the first time, after many years, that they would consider the option of directly selling the farm to the state.

Before then the owners had preferred the option of the cabinet arranging to build a similar facility in a similar location elsewhere. Solving the longstanding problem was a priority of former Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier (Czech Social Democratic Party - ČSSD).

In the fall, after ČSSD failed in the regional electoins, Dienstbier was one of two cabinet members whom Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka (ČSSD) replaced. Completion of the negotiations to buy the farm awaits Dienstbier's successor, Jan Chvojka (ČSSD).

The camp at Lety was first created as a labor camp and later served during the Second World War for the imprisonment of Romani people. Just like Jewish people from all over Europe, the Romani people imprisoned at Lety were sent to the extermination camps at Auschwitz, where several hundred of them from the Lety camp alone were murdered.

Last year Czech Vice Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO) faced calls for his resignation over remarks he made about Lety at the beginning of September. Babiš mentioned the camp while on a visit to Varnsdorf to visit a socially excluded locality.

"That was a labor camp. Whoever didn't work - bam!- ended up there," the Vice Prime Minister is alleged to have said.

The Prime Minister criticized the Vice PM for making that remark. Babiš later apologized and promised, in his role as Finance Minister, to allocate money for the building of a memorial at Lety - although one already exists there.

agw, ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Holokaust Romů po Česku, Lety u Písku, Lidská práva, Ministerstvo kultury



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