He was bitten by a dog on the communist border. Years later, the refugee received additional compensation of 15,000 crowns

He was bitten by a dog on the communist border. Years later, the refugee received additional compensation of 15,000 crowns
He was bitten by a dog on the communist border. Years later, the refugee received additional compensation of 15,000 crowns

The German Jürgen Seifert wanted to cross the communist border near Cheb in 1983 with two friends. The event failed, the young men were detained and Jürgen was also bitten by a border guard’s dog. After almost 40 years, Seifert received additional compensation, the court awarded him 15 thousand crowns. His legal representative informed about it.

The District Court for Prague 2 awarded additional compensation in the amount of 15,000 crowns to Jürgen Seifert, who was bitten by a service dog in 1983 while detained at the Czechoslovak border.

“It is the first time that an East German refugee, injured and subsequently imprisoned in Czechoslovakia, has been awarded compensation for psychological harm. The Ministry of Justice paid the money on August 25,” legal representative Lubomír Müller told Ekonomická deník.

The rehabilitated German Jürgen Seifert did not want to accept the amount of compensation the Czech state assessed for his illegal imprisonment in Czechoslovakia after attempting to cross the border into West Germany in 1983. He also suffered serious injuries when a service dog bit him on the thigh and genitals.

“Three friends from Berlin paid for enemies of the regime in the former German Democratic Republic. Unable to blend in with the crowd, the eccentric youths tried to run away. Their adventurous Trabant journey ended at the border crossing in Cheb. The first of them, 64-year-old Joachim Ernst, told his story in front of the court,” the daily Mladá fronta Dnes described the Anabasis.

“In November 1983, we decided to try to escape to the West. We thought that it would be best through Czechoslovakia. We wanted to drive to the other side in a Trabant. But we found out that Czech border guards are checking the cars. So we drove into the ditch and ran out towards the border. Everyone on their own. We were hoping that one of us would manage to get through,” said Joachim Ernst, who was twenty-eight years old at the time, before the District Court in Cheb.

But all three were detained by the border patrol. Not only Ernst ended up in the cell, but also Peter Pietruschinski, who was thirty-one years old at the time, and Jürgen Seifert, a year older. He also suffered serious injuries from the intervention of the border guards. The service dog bit him on the thigh and injured his genitals.

Although he was treated in the surgical department of the Cheb hospital after the attack and underwent surgery after being extradited to Germany, Seifert still suffers the consequences to this day.

“After the detention on November 7, they kept us in the ward. The next day I was transported to some prison. I didn’t know where or what happened to my friends. After ten days, on November 17, I was officially deported and handed over to the German authorities. I was sentenced to 16 months, I heard the sentence only on February 27, 1985,” said one of the refugees, Joachim Ernst.

“He was detained, imprisoned, interrogated, then deported and handed over to the GDR, where he then received a prison sentence. And that despite the fact that he didn’t steal anything, didn’t do anything, didn’t hurt anyone. He just wanted to live somewhere else,” explained the case lawyer Lubomír Müller, who represented Ernst and asked the Cheb court for justice.

He also managed to do that. In the case of Joachim Ernst, the Cheb District Court issued a resolution on judicial rehabilitation.

20 thousand for lifelong consequences

Later, another friend succeeded.

In October 2019, the District Court in Cheb ruled that Jürgen Seifert was illegally imprisoned in Czechoslovakia in connection with an attempt to cross the border into West Germany in 1983, and issued a verdict on judicial rehabilitation.

The court rehabilitated Seifert because his imprisonment in the former Czechoslovakia in connection with an attempt to cross the border near Cheb into the former Federal Republic of Germany was illegal. At that time, the 68-year-old German felt satisfaction.

But his enthusiasm soon faded. And that’s when Seifert got his hands on the compensation protocol. The Ministry of Justice awarded him approximately 20,000 crowns for the hardships he experienced at the time, for his imprisonment and serious injury, the consequences of which he is still dealing with today.

Seifert was not going to give up and went to court again.

He succeeded this time too. But even the newly awarded sum of 15,000 crowns probably won’t please him again.

With his lawsuit, Seifert demanded from the court compensation for damage to
health in the amount of half a million crowns.

“From the undisputed statements of the participants and the documentary evidence provided (medical report dated 11/8/1983, medical report dated 9/12/2019, medical report dated 1/17/2022 and medical report dated 5/20/2022) the court took it as proven that the plaintiff suffered in causal connection with the intervention of the Czechoslovak border guards on 7 November 1983 damage to his health in the amount of 1000 points, in terms of impaired social application, or that the plaintiff, in direct causal connection with the intervention of Czechoslovak border guards on November 7, 1983, suffered a serious mental disorder caused by the appalling experience,” stated the District Court for Prague 2.

At the relevant time according to the court, until 28 January 1993, the amount of compensation for pain was 15 crowns per one point. According to the second paragraph of the same provision, the total amount of compensation for pain and difficult social application was not allowed to exceed the amount of 60,000 crowns, while the compensation for pain alone was not allowed to exceed the amount of 18,000 crowns, even with the addition according to one of the sections of the specific decree.

“Taking into account this value of one point and the number of points determined in the medical report submitted by the plaintiff dated 20/05/2022 (against which
the parties to the proceedings did not object) the corresponding amount of compensation for hindering social application is CZK 15,000 (1000 x 15). To this extent, the lawsuit is therefore justified. If it is a question of compensation for pain (psychiatric point of view), in the opinion of the court here, this is not the case
the plaintiff’s claim as a matter of law,” reads the court’s decision.

For this, the court emphasized the following:

“First of all, in his lawsuit, the plaintiff himself assessed his injury (in terms of hindering social application) at 1,800 points. At the hearing on May 2, 2022, the plaintiff was informed of the preliminary legal opinion of the local court, according to which Decree No. 32/1965 Coll. Nevertheless, the plaintiff did not react in any way to the fact that according to point B.II 253 of the Annex to Decree No. 32/1965 Coll. in the version valid and effective until January 28, 1993, it is possible to award compensation for the difficulty of social application only in the range of 200 to 1000 points. It should be noted that the plaintiff himself did not dispute that his case should be subordinated precisely to point B.II 253 of the Annexes to the Decree
No. 32/1965 Coll. in the version valid and effective until January 28, 1993, when he himself submitted a document to support his claims (a medical report dated May 20, 2022), from which this very classification follows. In addition, it cannot be overlooked that the plaintiff’s court at the hearing on 11/07/2022 also explicitly drew attention to the inconsistency between the point assessment stated in the lawsuit and the point assessment resulting from the evidence provided (or the relevant legislation). Nevertheless, the plaintiff decided not to respond to this in any way. Such procedural passivity is hardly for the local court
understandable; in any case, however, the court considers that the compensation for hindering social application cannot be calculated at more than 1,000 points, as follows from the relevant legislation,” concluded the court.

“With regard to the above, it is concluded that the court found the lawsuit justified up to the amount of CZK 15,000 and rejected the rest,” the court issued a verdict.

Regarding this decision, the court noted that it is well aware that the amount of compensation awarded may seem disproportionately low in light of the current circumstances.

“However, this is due to the fact that the plaintiff himself decided to claim compensation several decades later. As stated above, the compensation cannot be increased only because of the time gap since the injury in question. In the same way, according to the opinion of the court here, the compensation, which according to the relevant legislation should belong to the plaintiff, cannot be increased arbitrarily, i.e. without support in the facts
statements, or findings of fact, and only with reference to vague principles of decency, or of justice, as the plaintiff demanded at the court hearing,” added the District Court for Prague 2.

Jan Hrbáček, Economic Journal

The article is in Czech

Tags: bitten dog communist border Years refugee received additional compensation crowns

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