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Appendix 12
Decree of President Dr. Benes of June 19, 1945
concerning the punishment of Nazi criminals, traitors and their accomplices, and concerning the Special People's Courts
(Decree No. 16)


The appalling crimes committed by the Nazis and their treacherous associates against Czechoslovakia call for strict justice. The oppression of the fatherland, the murder, enslavement, robbery and humiliation of which the Czechoslovak people has been the victim, and all the ferocious bestialities of the Germans unfortunately contributed to by unfaithful Czechoslovak citizens (among whom there were certain persons who abused their high offices or positions) all call for the speedy execution of well-deserved punishment in order to eradicate the evil of National Socialism and Fascism. Upon application of the Government I therefore decree:


Chapter I

Crimes Against the State

§ 1

Whoever, within the territory of the Republic or abroad, and during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), committed any of the following offences in violation of the Law for the Protection of the Republic of March 19, 1923, No. 50, will be punished. An attack on the Republic (§ 1) will be punished by death, the preparation of attacks (§ 2), the endangering of the security of the Republic (§ 3), treason (§ 4, No. 1), the disclosure of a state secret (§ 5, No. 1), military treason (§ 6, Nos. 1, 2 and 3) or violence against constitutional institutions (§ 10, No. 1), will be punished by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from 20 years to Life, and in case of particularly aggravating circumstances by death.

§ 2

Whoever, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), was a member of the Schutzstaffeln of the N.S.D.A.P. (SS), or of the Voluntary Schutzstaffeln (F.S.), or of the Rodobrana, or of the Szabadcsapatok, or of any other organization of similar nature not mentioned herein, shall be punished as for a crime by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from five to 20 years and, in case of particularly aggravating circumstances, by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from 20 years to Life, provided that the person in question is not guilty of an offense carrying more severe punishment.

§ 3

1. Whoever, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), propagated or supported the fascist or Nazi movement, or who, during the said period, consented to, or defended the enemy government in the territory of the Republic or approved individual unlawful acts of the occupational military posts and authorities or organs subordinated by using press, radio, motion picture or theatre facilities or in public meetings shall be punished as for a crime by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from five to 20 years, provided that the person in question is not guilty of an offence carrying more severe punishment. In the case that he has committed such crime with the intention of destroying the moral and national consciousness of the Czechoslovak people, in particular of the Czechoslovak Youth, he shall be punished by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from ten to 20 years, and in case of particularly aggravating circumstances by confinement for a period from 20 years to Life, or by death.

2. Any person who was officer or leader in the N.S.D.A.P., in the Sudetendeutsche Partei (SdP), or in the Vlajka, Hlinková or Svatopluková Garda, or in any other fascist organization of similar nature during this time, shall be punished as for a crime by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from five to 20 years, provided that he is not guilty of an offense carrying more severe punishment.

§ 4

A Czechoslovak citizen who, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), attempted to corrupt the liberation movement abroad which was endeavoring to regain for the Republic the status it had had prior to Munich, or who knowingly impaired the interests of the Czechoslovak Republic in any other manner, in particular one who endangered the security of citizens working at home for the liberation of the Republic, shall be punished by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from five to 20 years, provided that he is not guilty of an offense carrying more severe punishment.


Crimes Against the Individual

§ 5

1. Whoever, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), in the service of or in the interest of Germany or of her associates, or in the service of a movement hostile to the Republic or the organizations of such a movement, or who as a member thereof committed any of the following crimes:
a) in violation of the Criminal Code of 27 May 1852 No. 117 R. G. Bl., the crime of open violence by kidnapping (§ 90), the crime of open violence by treating a human being as a slave (§ 95), the crime of murder (§§ 134 to 137), of manslaughter (§§ 140 and 141) or of inflicting serious bodily injury (§ 156);
b) in violation of the Criminal Code Stat. Art. V/1878, the crime of murder (§ 278), of intentional manslaughter (§ 279), of inflicting serious bodily injury resulting in death (§§ 306 and 307), or of kidnapping of a child (§ 317), shall be punished by death.

2. Whoever, during the same period, under the same circumstances, and for the same purposes, committed any of the following crimes:
a) in violation of the Criminal Code of 27 May 1852 No. 117 R. G. Bl., the crime of open violence by an unauthorized restriction of the personal liberty of a human being (§ 93), the crime of open violence by extortion (§ 98), of public violence by threats (§ 99) or of inflicting serious bodily injury (§§ 152 and 155);
b) in violation of the Criminal Code Stat. Art. V/1878, the crime of unlawful violation of the personal liberty of a human being (§§ 323, 324 and 325), of inflicting serious bodily injury (§ 301) and of extortion (§§ 350 and 353), shall be punished by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from ten to 20 years.

§ 6

1. Whoever, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), ordered the performance of compulsory or obligatory work favourable to the endeavours by Germany or one of her associates to carry on the war, and who participated in the issuance or the execution of such order, shall be punished as for a crime by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from five to ten years, provided that he is not guilty of an offense carrying more severe punishment.

2. If by virtue of such order an inhabitant of the Republic was compelled to work abroad or under such circumstances or at such places that may have endangered his life or impaired his health, the guilty person shall be punished by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from ten to 20 years without regard to the purpose of the work in question.

§ 7

1. Whoever, alone or in cooperation with others, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), in the services of or in the interest of Germany or of her associates, or of a movement hostile to the Republic, its organizations, or as a member thereof, has been responsible for the loss of liberty of an inhabitant of the Republic without further consequences, shall be punished as for a crime by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from five to 20 years. If the guilty person has been responsible for a larger number of inhabitants of the Republic losing their liberty, the court may impose confinement in a penitentiary for a period from 20 years to Life, and in case of particularly aggravating circumstances, the death penalty.

2. Whoever, during the same period, under the same circumstances, for the same purposes, and in the same manner, has inflicted upon an inhabitant of the Republic a serious bodily injury without more serious consequences (Subsection 3), shall be punished as for a crime by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from ten to 20 years and in case of particularly aggravating circumstances, by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from 20 years to Life. If his actions affected a larger number of persons, the court may impose the death penalty.

3. Whoever, during the same period, and under the same circumstances, for the same purpose, and in the same manner, has caused the death of an inhabitant of the Republic, or a serious bodily injury to an inhabitant of the Republic, or his deportation in execution of a court order, a judgment, or any other court decision, or in execution of an administrative decision of any kind, or in execution of a judgment or of another court decision, or of an administrative decision, or in any other manner, shall be punished as for a crime by death in accordance with § 156 of the Criminal Code No. 117/1852 R. G. Bl., and in accordance with §§ 306, 307 of the Criminal Code Stat. Art V/1878.


Crimes Against Property

§ 8

1. Whoever, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), in the service of or in the interest of Germany or of her associates, or of a movement hostile to the Republic or of its organizations, or as a member thereof, committed any of the following crimes:
a) in violation of the Criminal Code of 27 May 1852 No. 117 R. G. Bl., the crime of open violence by wilful damage to the property of another person (§ 85) with the consequences according to § 86 Subsection 2, or arson (§ 166) under the circumstances and with the consequences according to § 167 a), of robbery (§ 190) under the circumstances and with the consequences according to § 195;
b) in violation of the Criminal Code Stat. Art. V/1878, the crime of arson (§ 424), of robbery (§§ 344 and 345), under the circumstances and with the consequences according to § 349 Subsection 1, No. 2, and Subsection 2, shall be punished by death.

2. Whoever, during the same period, and under the same circumstances, for the same purpose, and in the same manner, has committed any of the following offenses:
a) in violation of the Criminal Code of 27 May 1852 No. 117 R. G. Bl., the crime of open violence by invading by force the immovable property of another person (§ 83), of open violence by wilful damage to the property of another person (§§ 85, 86 Subsection. 1), of arson (§ 166) under the circumstances and with the consequences according to § 167 b) to g), of larceny (§§ 171 to 180), of embezzlement (§§ 181 to 183), of participating in larceny or embezzlement (§§ 181 to 183), of robbery (§ 190) under the circumstances and with the consequences according to §§ 191 to 194, of participating in robbery (§ 196), of fraud (§§ 197 to 201, 203);
b) in violation of the Criminal Code Stat. Art. V/1878, the crime of trespass committed by non-official persons (§§ 330 and 331), the offense of damage to the property of another person (§§ 418 and 420) which shall be considered a crime under the circumstances of Subsection 1 of this Article, of arson (§§ 422 and 423), of larceny (§§ 333 to 341) provided that the offense is not punishable by virtue of Subsection 1 b) of this Article, of receiving stolen goods (§ 370), of fraud (§ 379, as amended by § 50 of the Law Amending the Criminal Code, or § 383 Subsection 2 with the exception of § 382), shall be punished by confinement in a penitentiary for a term from ten to 20 years, and, in case of particularly aggravating circumstances, by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from 20 years to Life.

§ 9

Whoever, alone or in cooperation with others, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), in the services of or in the interest of Germany or of her associates or of a movement hostile to the Republic, has caused in execution of a court order, a judgment, or another court decision, or administrative decision of any kind, in execution of a judgment, or another court decision, or of an administrative decision, that the Czechoslovak Government or a juristic or natural person be deprived of their property in whole or in part contrary to the law of the Republic, shall be punished as for a crime by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from ten to 20 years, and in case of particularly aggravating circumstances, by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from 20 years to Life, provided that he is not guilty of an offense carrying more severe punishment.

§ 10

Whoever, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic (§ 18), used the distress which had been caused by the national, political or racial persecution to enrich himself at the expense of the government, of juristic or of natural persons, shall be punished as for a crime by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from five to ten years, provided that he is not guilty of an offense carrying more severe punishment.


Denunciation

§ 11

Whoever, during the time of the increased threat to the Republic, in the services of or in the interest of the enemy, or by taking advantage of the situation resulting from the occupation by the enemy, has accused another person of an actual or invented activity, shall be punished as for a crime by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from five to ten years. If, however, the person who has made the denunciation has caused the loss of liberty of a Czechoslovak citizen by reason of his accusation, he shall be punished by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from ten to 20 years. If such an accusation resulted directly or indirectly in the loss to a greater number of persons of their personal liberty or in serious impairment of health, he shall be punished by confinement in a penitentiary for Life, and if it resulted in the loss of life of any person, he shall be punished by death.


General Provisions

§ 12

A foreigner who has committed the crime referred to under § 1 or who has committed abroad any of the offenses listed in §§ 4 to 9, if such offense was directed against a Czechoslovak citizen or against public or private Czechoslovak property, is liable to punishment in accordance with the provisions of this Edict.

§ 13

1. It shall not be a justification of an act punishable under this Edict that its performance was ordered or that it was permitted by regulations other than that of Czechoslovak law or by organs appointed by a governmental authority other than that of the Czechoslovak Government, nor shall it be a valid excuse that the perpetrator believed such invalid regulations to be justified.

2. It shall also not constitute a valid excuse of the perpetrator that he fulfilled his duties, if he acted with particular zeal and exceeded the normal scope of such duties, or if he acted with the intention of supporting the endeavors of the Germans (or their Allies) to carry on the war, or to impede or to ruin the endeavors of Czechoslovakia (or her Allies) to carry on the war, or if he acted for any other obviously base motive.

3. Irresistible compulsion by reason of the order of a superior shall not constitute an excuse in respect of a person who voluntarily became a member of an organization, membership in which imposed the carrying out of any order, even if such order was unlawful.

§ 14

A court convicting a person of a crime under this Edict and not abstaining from the pronouncement of a sentence (§ 16 Abs. 2) simultaneously decrees:

a) that the person convicted loses his civic rights, for a certain period or permanently (§ 15);

b) that the person convicted shall serve his sentence in whole or in part in one of the particular camps for compulsory labor which shall be established by virtue of a special law;

c) that the property of such person shall be forfeit, in whole or in part, for the benefit of the Government.

§ 15

Loss of civic rights (§ 14 a) shall imply:

1. the permanent loss of decorations, medals and certificates of merit, public offices, rights and functions, academic degrees, as well as the loss of pensions and retirement allowances;

2. in case of non-commissioned officers, demotion; in case of commissioned officers, cashiering;

3. the loss of the capacity to acquire, to exercise and to reacquire rights listed under No. 1 and 2, or of rights connected with the position lost;

4. the loss of the right to vote in an election and of the right to be nominated as a candidate, and of the right to hold public office or to vote on public issues;

5. the loss of the capacity to hold a position in societies (associations and similar organizations);

6. the loss of the capacity to be the owner, the publisher or the editor of a periodical or to participate in the publication or edition in any manner, as well as to edit or to publish non-periodical printed matter;

7. the loss of the capacity to hold public lectures or meetings;

8. the loss of the capacity to work in institutions of education or art or in other organizations of similar nature;

9. the loss of the capacity to be an employer or a partner;

10. the loss of the capacity to engage in a liberal profession;

11. the loss of the capacity to be a member of a board of directors (administrative council) of corporations and of co-operatives;

12. the loss of the capacity to hold a leading position in a private enterprise.

The violation of any of the prohibitions laid down in this article shall be punished by imprisonment for a period from 1 week to 3 months.

§ 16

1. Punishment by incarceration cannot be reduced beyond the minimum term provided by law, nor can its nature be modified into a punishment of a milder type.

2. The court can reduce the punishment below the minimum term provided by law and convert the same into a punishment more lenient in its nature, and, in cases deserving particular consideration, abstain from the imposition of punishment, if it is generally known or can immediately be proved that the accused acted with the intention of furthering the interests of the Czech and Slovak nation or of the Czechoslovak Republic or of its Allies or of some other general purpose, or if he deserves reward because of his later activities relating to the liberation of the Republic from the occupation power or to the restitution or diminution of the damage caused by the enemy, and if he after his conversion has followed the path of duty. This provision cannot be applied if the damage caused by the perpetrator is disproportionately great if compared with the profit resulting from his activities.

§ 17

Neither prosecution nor the serving of sentences in respect of any of the crimes punishable by virtue of this Edict shall be nullified by lapse of time.

§ 18

The period of the increased threat to the Republic shall be considered as the period from 21 May 1938 to a date which shall be determined by a government ordinance.

§ 19

The crimes punishable under this Edict shall always be considered to be crimes of a particularly despicable nature within the meaning of § 1 Subsection 1 of the Law concerning the State Prison of 16 July 1931 No. 123 Comp.

§ 20

Aid in connection with a crime punishable under this Edict shall be prosecuted in accordance with the criminal statutes in force, subject to the following modifications:

1. in the case of a crime against the State, the aid shall be punished equally with the crime;

2. in the case of a crime of the same nature, the aid by the harboring of intimate persons [i.e. family members, friends] (§ 39 No. 4 of the Law No. 50/1923 Comp. for the Protection of the Republic) shall constitute a crime and shall be punished by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from one to ten years, and, if the Edict provides the death penalty for the crime itself, by confinement in a penitentiary for a period from five to 20 years;

3. in the case of any other crime the aid shall be punished by confinement in a penitentiary
a) for a period from ten to 20 years, if this Edict provides for the crime itself punishment by death or confinement in a penitentiary for a period of more than 20 years,
b) for a period from one to ten years, if under this Edict the crime itself is punishable by a lesser penalty.


Chapter II

The Special People's Courts

§ 21

1. The Special People's Courts are competent to adjudge all crimes punishable under this Edict, if the persons listed in §§ 2 and 3, Subsection 2 are criminally responsible for them as perpetrators, co-actors, conspirators, participants or accessories; in the event that other persons are criminally responsible for them, the Special People's Courts shall be competent to adjudge them if the public prosecutor (§ 24) moves for leave to institute proceedings against them in the Special People's Courts.

2. The venue of the Special People's Courts shall be prescribed by the provisions of the Codes of Criminal Procedure in force within the territory of the Republic.


The Composition and the Seat of the Special People's Courts

§ 22

1. The Special People's Courts are composed of a five-member senate which consists of the presiding judge who must be a professional judge (judge from the usual law courts or of courts-martial) and of four laymen (the People's Judges).

2. The presidents of the Special People's Courts, their deputies and the professional judges (Subsection 1) shall be appointed by the President of the Republic who will select them from among the persons whose names have been entered in a roll made out by the District National Committees (okresní národní výbor) for this purpose. The non-professional judges are appointed and selected by reason of another roll made out by the District National Committees.

3. The president of the Special People's Court or his deputy has the duty of setting up the necessary senates and of appointing the substitutes from among the persons listed in Subsection 2.

4. The Special People's Court shall be established at the seat of the District Courts; each senate of a Special People's Court may also convene, if necessary, at any place within the judicial district. The Local National Committee (místní národní výbor) appoints the persons to execute the death penalties, and their assistants, in the place where the District Court has its seat.

5. A government ordinance shall prescribe the oath to be sworn by the non-professional judges and the amount chargeable by them in respect of expenses and sacrifices of income.

§ 23

In reaching a decision the non-professional judges shall vote first, and in descending order of age.


The Public Prosecutor

§ 24

1. The public prosecutor of the Special People's Courts shall be appointed by the government or upon its application by the Minister of Justice for a certain time, for particular cases, or for the entire period of the operation of the court. He shall hold a Doctor's degree in the field of law or shall have passed the three State examinations in law, or as a minimum, the examination in Jurisprudence and shall be among those listed in the roll made out by the District National Committees for this purpose.

2. The public prosecutors for the Special People's Courts are subordinated to the Minister of Justice.


The Procedure Before the Special People's Courts

§ 25

1. The procedure before the Special People's Courts shall be governed by the principles of procedure before courts-martial in the version laid down in §§ 26 to 31 of this Edict. In cases where this Edict refers to the provisions of the ordinary procedure such provisions shall be those of the Code of Criminal Procedure in force.

2. An acquittal by a Special People's Courts shall not exclude prosecution before a competent ordinary court, or before the State Court according to the Law No. 68/1935 Comp., or before the competent district court in respect of military treason under Law No. 130/1936 Comp. and to governmental ordinance No. 238/1937 Comp. Such a court proceeds in the matter de novo and the provisions of this Edict which contain substantive law (§§ 1 to 20) shall apply with the same force as if the guilty person had been brought before the ordinary court in the first instance (§ 21). The motion to proceed against the accused in the aforesaid manner must be made within three months from the date of his acquittal.

§ 26

1. The proceedings before the Special People's Court shall commence upon motion of the public prosecutor (§ 24). Pregnant women shall not be brought before the Special People's Court during the period of their pregnancy.

2. The entire proceedings against a single accused shall be carried on, if possible without interruption, before the Special People's Court. The proceedings against a single accused shall not consume more than three days. This period shall commence at the moment when the accused is brought before the court.

3. If the Special People's Court has not reached a decision within the three-day period it shall forward the case to the competent ordinary court (§ 23 Subsection 2). In such case it shall also decide whether or not the accused shall remain in pre-trial custody.

4. If the accused fails to appear before the court for any reason whatsoever or is unable to appear, then the public prosecutor may move to try the accused in absentia. In such case the court must appoint a counsel for the accused.

§ 27

The proceedings before the Special People's Court are oral and public. The accused has the right to appoint a counsel or to request the court to do so for him, if he is without means. If the accused fails to avail himself of this right, the court will appoint a counsel on his behalf. The accused as well as the court may also appoint as counsel a person whose name is not entered in the list of attorneys, provided that he has the degree of a doctor of law or has passed the three State examinations of law or, as a minimum, the examination of Jurisprudence.

§ 28

1. The trial before the Special People's Court is to commence after the case has been called and the data necessary have been recorded with a statement by the public prosecutor, setting forth the charges and particulars being brought against the accused. The interrogation of the accused and the evidence shall in general be governed by the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure. The records of the interrogation of co-actors and of witnesses and the opinions of expert witnesses may be read, provided that the President of the Senate deems such reading to be appropriate.

2. The proceedings shall only relate to the act or the acts in respect of which the accused has been brought before the Special People's Court. Acts not punishable under this Edict shall not be in issue. If such acts are prosecuted at a later date before the Special People's Court or before the ordinary court, or before the State Court or the District Court which is competent for the adjudication of military treason, the punishment imposed by the Special People's Court shall be taken into consideration in determining the measure of punishment to be imposed.

3. The proceedings before the Special People's Court shall not be delayed by the assessment of damages which have been caused by the criminal act.

4. The discovery of co-actors shall not be neglected but it shall not be allowed to result in delaying the judgment and the execution thereof.

5. After all of the evidence has been introduced, the public prosecutor shall evaluate its weight and shall make his final motion. Thereupon the presiding judge shall give the accused and his counsel occasion to argue the case of the defense. If the public prosecutor responds, the accused and his counsel shall have the last word.

§ 29

1. Thereafter the court will consider in camera the judgment to be rendered, whereby it will follow the appropriate provisions of the ordinary procedure to the extent that this Edict does not provide otherwise.

2. If the conviction of a crime which is punishable by death under this Edict is based on three votes only, or if the court is convinced that there are circumstances in view of which the death penalty would be disproportionately grave, the court may impose confinement in a penitentiary for a period from 20 years to Life and, in the presence of the prerequisites laid down in § 16 Subsection 2, may also apply that provision.

3. The judgment shall be announced in open court immediately following its decision.

§ 30

The proceedings before the Special People's Court shall be recorded in accordance with the ordinary procedure. Such record shall be signed by all members of the Senate and by the clerk of the court.

§ 31

1. There shall be no appeal against the judgment of the Special People's Court. An application for pardon shall be without dilatory effect regardless of the person filing such application.

2. In principle the death penalty shall be executed within two hours after judgment has been given. Upon express request of the person convicted, such period may be extended for one hour. If the accused was tried in absentia the death penalty shall be executed within 24 hours after his apprehension.

3. The Special People's Court may also decide that the death penalty shall be executed in public. Such decision shall be rendered in particular if the base manner in which the crime was committed, or the despicable character of the perpetrator, the number of the crimes committed by him, or his position call for such public execution of the judgment. In such case the court may extend the period of two hours but not beyond 24 hours in order to secure the publicity of the penal execution.


Intermediary and Final Provisions

§ 32

1. The provisions of the Law of 3 May 1934 No. 91 Comp. concerning the imposition of the death penalty and of life term penalties shall not apply to crimes punishable under this Edict.

2. The provisions of the Law of 11 March 1931 No. 48 Comp. concerning criminal jurisdiction over youthful offenders shall remain in force.

§ 33

The Edict shall become effective on the date of its publication and shall remain in force for a period of one year unless it be modified or amended or the period of its effectiveness be reduced or extended by the competent legislative authorities.

§ 34

This Edict will be carried out by all members of the Government.


[sgd.:]

Dr. Beneš
David, Gottwald, Siroký, Dr. Srámek, Ursíny, gen. Svoboda, Dr. Ripka, Nosek, Dr. Srobár, Dr. Nejedlý, Dr. Stránský, Kopeckýy, Lausman, Duris, Dr. Pietor, gen. Hasal, Hála, Dr. Soltéesz, Dr. Procházka, Majer, Dr. Clementis (auch für Min. Masaryk), gen. Dr. Ferjencik, Lichner


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