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It's official! Czech state to pay roughly CZK 450 million to buy out pig farm on Roma genocide site

24.10.2017 8:07
The pig farm on the grounds of the former WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku. The roses were put on the fence on 24 June 2017 by advocates of removing the farm. (PHOTO:   František Bikár,
The pig farm on the grounds of the former WWII-era concentration camp for Romani people at Lety u Písku. The roses were put on the fence on 24 June 2017 by advocates of removing the farm. (PHOTO: František Bikár,

The Czech state will pay roughly CZK 450 million [EUR 17,548,758], including VAT, to buy out the pig farm at Lety located on the site of a former concentration camp for Romani people. The purchase contract was published by the Czech Government yesterday.

The purchase was approved in August. The contract with the AGPI firm, which operates the farm, should be signed as soon as possible, Czech Culture Minister Daniel Herman (Christian Democrats) said after the cabinet session.

The release of the contract confirms the information about the price that news server published in September. The operation of the farm should, according to previous information, be closed within a few months and a memorial should be installed at the site of the camp in the years to come.

Czech Finance Minister Ivan Pilný (ANO) considers the final sum to be disproportionately high compared to the appraisal price, which was just CZK 200 million. He did not vote in favor of concluding the contract.

Pilný told journalists yesterday that he left when the vote on the contract was called. Herman justified paying the higher price by saying it was in the public interest.

The exact price, according to the Culture Minister, will be CZK 450,814,796 including VAT (CZK 372,574,380 exclusive of VAT). Buying out the farm and building a dignified memorial site on the grounds of the former camp has been discussed for more than two decades, but previous Governments passed the buck on the problem.

The Czech Republic has garnered criticism from both domestic and international organizations about the farm being located on the site, which is sacred to Romani people. The European Parliament has also called several times for the farm to be removed.

After the contract is signed, stockholders of the business must agree to sell the farm at a general assembly. The purchase contract will take effect after the new year, according to the vice-chair of the AGPI board, Jan Čech.

AGPI originally preferred to exchange the farm for another one located elsewhere, but this year agreed to be financially compensated instead. The ground beneath the buildings belongs to the state.

According to previous statements by the Culture Ministry, the signature of the purchase agreement will be followed by the demolition of the buildings, redevelopment of the area, development of project documentation for a memorial, and building of the memorial itself. It will take years to finish the work on the grounds.

The cost of buying the farm had previously been assessed at several hundreds of millions of crowns. In June 1998 then-minister Vladimír Mlynář said a court appraisal of the value of the farm was, at that time, CZK 50 million, that the owners' market assessment of the value was CZK 140 million, and that the proprietors were demanding CZK 300 million.

Czech President Miloš Zeman said several months ago that when he was Prime Minister (1998-2002) he refused to close the farm because it would have cost the taxpayers about CZK 400 million back then. He is also said to be against closing a business that is prospering.

Zeman previously said many people would lose their jobs if the farm were to close. Herman says just eight employees work at the Lety pig fam.

ČTK, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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