published: 07.03.2013, 16:57 | updated: 07.03.2013 17:02:38
Prague - Five descendants of world-known Czech shoemaker magnate Jan Antonin Bata claim a compensation of 56 million crowns from the Czech state for Bata´s property unjustly nationalised over his alleged collaboration with the Nazis, in a lawsuit a Prague court started to discuss today.
Bata´s property was nationalised in 1947 based on the Czechoslovak post-war Benes Decrees that provided for the confiscation of the property of ethnic Germans, Hungarians and traitors.
However, the court cancelled the verdict and cleaned Bata´s name 60 years later.
The descendants´ defence lawyer now says the family incurred extensive damage as a result of the wrong verdict after the war.
The lawsuit filed by the five descendants, who live in South America, seeks financial compensation for confiscated immovable property in Zlin, south Moravia.
The defence lawyer, Robert Cholensky, said the value of the real estate can be easily ascertained, but another thing to discuss is the family´s loss of profit from the property.
The complainants set their demand at 56 million crowns.
"Mr Bata was convicted in 1947 in absentia for something he had not even been charged with, which, too, says much about the then judiciary. The verdict was eventually scrapped and the heirs should be logically compensated for the damage," Cholensky said.
The judge today adjourned the proceedings indefinitely.
She said the claim is not statute-barred, as the lawyer representing the state asserted.
"The plaintiffs in fact did not know about the damage until 2007," the judge said, pointing out that only after Bata´s name was rehabilitated in 2007, the heirs could claim a compensation.
Cholensky emphasised that the lawsuit is not a restitution claim. It ensues from the abolition of the verdict that originally unjustly branded Bata "a pro-Nazi collaborator," Cholensky said.
Cholensky told journalists that Bata´s offspring have launched more lawsuits of which, however, he has no detailed information.
Brazilian Dolores Liljana Bata Arambasic, a heiress of Bata, definitively lost her claim to a compensation of nationalised property last December when her complaint was turned down by the Constitutional Court.
Jan Antonin Bata (1895-1965) was a step-brother of Tomas Bata, founder of a large shoe-making plant in Zlin. After Tomas died in an air accident in 1932, Jan Antonin replaced him as the firm´s head. The firm and the town Zlin flourished under his management. In 1941 he left for Brazil where he later died.
About 80 members of his family live in Brazil.
After the war, a Czechoslovak court labelled Jan Antonin Bata a traitor and collaborator in absentia and confiscated his property.
Bata was rehabilitated by courts in 2007. Archive documents showed that Bata´s firms financially supported the wartime Czechoslovak exile government in London and sent tens of thousands of pounds or dollars to anti-Nazi actions.
Bata was also locked in lawsuits with other members of the Bata family over the shoemaking company´s foreign branches. However, he lost the lawsuits and the property went to Tomas Jan Bata, Tomas Bata´s son.
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