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article imagePrague compensates German for 1982 border shooting

By AFP     Feb 7, 2019 in World

The Czech Republic has compensated a man for wounds suffered during his 1982 attempt to cross the Iron Curtain, a spokesman said Thursday.

Siegfried Froebel was 27 when he and a married couple tried to reach West Germany via Czechoslovakia on April 29, 1982.

The couple gave themselves up to Czech border troops who opened fire, while Froebel was hit in the thigh after he had reached German soil.

Hauled back to Czech territory, he suffered a brutal interrogation before doctors tended to his wounds.

Froebel was then expelled to the German Democratic Republic, or former East Germany, where he spent two years in prison before he was finally allowed to settle in West Germany.

"The justice ministry has compensated former GDR citizen Siegfried Froebel for wounds suffered during an attempt to cross the border" with former West Germany, ministry spokesman Vladimir Repka told AFP.

The GDR like the former Czechoslovakia was a communist state when Froebel, now 63, made his failed attempt.

Froebel first filed a complaint in 1990 after countries in Eastern Europe broke away from the Soviet Union, and he now rejects the figure offered by Prague of 125,825 koruna (4,875 euros, $5,500), the same sum mooted 28 years ago.

Repka confirmed Czech press reports that it was the first time since the country's "Velvet Revolution" in 1989 that someone has been compensated for such an event.

"It is a unique case that our ministry has been examining for the past few years," he told AFP.

His wounds left Froebel disabled and he told the Dnes newspaper that "the amount of compensation is not satisfactory. It is pretty low given my long-term disability, psychological suffering and decline in my standard of living."

Czech spokesman Repka told AFP: "There is no judicial basis for re-evaluating the amount."

According to Czech statistics, around 300 people were killed and hundreds of others wounded on Czechoslovakia's borders between 1948 and 1989.

The country split in 1992 to become the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

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