Czech pig farm to quit WW2 Roma concentration camp site

PRAGUE (Reuters) - The Czech government has persuaded an agricultural firm to sell a pig farm partly covering the site of a World War Two Nazi concentration camp where most of the victims were Roma.

The firm, AGPI, said on Monday it had accepted an undisclosed financial offer from the government.

The agreement is a turning point in over two decades of attempts to close down the farm.

The center-left government of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had entered talks with AGPI in November 2016, with the Culture Ministry representing the government in the talks.

"I can confirm that AGPI has decided to accept the offer made by the Ministry of Culture," AGPI Deputy Director Jan Cech told Reuters.

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Pig farm situated at the site of a former Roma concentration camp
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Pig farm situated at the site of a former Roma concentration camp
A Roma man lays a flower on the fence of the industrial pig farm situated at the site of a former concentration camp in Lety, Czech Republic, on June 24, 2017, during the 'Dignity for Lety' commemorational event organized by the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM). The Lety camp was established by Czech war-time authorities in August 1942. The prison staff were Czech. There were some 1,300 Roma inmates in the camp, and a total of 326 people, most of them children, perished in Lety during the war. In the 1970s, a large-scale pig farm was built on its site. / AFP PHOTO / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Participants of the European Meeting of Antiracist Leaders walk past a pig farm, situated at the site of a former Roma concentration camp, to commemorate victims of the Holocaust during World War Two in the village of Lety June 13, 2014. The Lety camp was established during Nazi occupation in 1942 and the pig farm was built on its site in 1970. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY CONFLICT)
LETY, CZECH REPUBLIC: A pig is pictured 04 May 2005 in a huge industrial pig farm situated at the site of former concentration camp in Lety, south Bohemia. The Lety camp was established by the Czech war-time authorities in August 1942. The prison staff were Czech. There were some 1,300 Romany inmates in the camp, 326 of whom died there. In the 1970s, a large-scale pig farm was built on its site. In 1995, former president Vaclav Havel unveiled a memorial to the Romany Holocaust victims. The European Parliament (EP) call on Czech Republic to scrap the pig farm. The appeal for the pig farm's abolition is a part of a resolution condemning discrimination against Romanies which the EP passed end of April. AFP PHOTO MICHAL CIZEK (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
Participants of the European Meeting of Antiracist Leaders hold pictures in front of a pig farm, situated at the site of a former Roma concentration camp, to commemorate victims of the Holocaust during World War Two in the village of Lety June 13, 2014. The Lety camp was established during Nazi occupation in 1942 and the pig farm was built on its site in 1970. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY CONFLICT)
A memorial to the Romany Holocaust victims which was unveiled in 2000 is pictured 04 May 2005 at Mirovice cemetery next to a huge industrial pig farm situated at the site of former concentration camp in Lety, south Bohemia.The Lety camp was established by the Czech war-time authorities in August 1942. The prison staff were Czech. There were some 1,300 Romany inmates in the camp, 326 of whom died there. In the 1970s, a large-scale pig farm was built on its site. The European Parliament (EP) call on Czech Republic to scrap the pig farm. The appeal for the pig farm's abolition is a part of a resolution condemning discrimination against Romanies which the EP passed end of April. AFP PHOTO MICHAL CIZEK (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A participant of the European Meeting of Antiracist Leaders places a picture in front of a pig farm, situated at the site of a former Roma concentration camp, to commemorate victims of the Holocaust during World War Two in the village of Lety June 13, 2014. The Lety camp was established during Nazi occupation in 1942 and the pig farm was built on its site in 1970. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY CONFLICT)
A tractor passes 04 May 2005 by a huge industrial pig farm situated at the site of former concentration camp in Lety, south Bohemia. The Lety camp was established by the Czech war-time authorities in August 1942. The prison staff were Czech. There were some 1,300 Romany inmates in the camp, and a total of 326 people, about half of whom were children, perished in Lety during the war. In the 1970s, a large-scale pig farm was built on its site. In 1995, then Czech president Vaclav Havel unveiled a memorial to the Romany Holocaust victims. The European Parliament (EP) called on Czech Republic to scrap the pig farm. The appeal for the pig farm's abolition is a part of a resolution condemning discrimination against Romanies which the EP passed end of April. AFP PHOTO MICHAL CIZEK (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A participant of the European Meeting of Antiracist Leaders places a picture on a fence of a pig farm, situated at the site of a former Roma concentration camp, to commemorate victims of the Holocaust during World War Two in the village of Lety June 13, 2014. The Lety camp was established during Nazi occupation in 1942 and the pig farm was built on its site in 1970. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY CONFLICT)
A Roma girl holds a flag as she stands in front of the fence of the industrial pig farm situated at the site of a former concentration camp in Lety, Czech Republic, on June 24, 2017, during the 'Dignity for Lety' commemorational event organized by the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM). The Lety camp was established by Czech war-time authorities in August 1942. The prison staff were Czech. There were some 1,300 Roma inmates in the camp, and a total of 326 people, most of them children, perished in Lety during the war. In the 1970s, a large-scale pig farm was built on its site. / AFP PHOTO / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A participant of the European Meeting of Antiracist Leaders places flowers in front of a pig farm, situated at the site of a former Roma concentration camp, to commemorate victims of the Holocaust during World War Two in the village of Lety June 13, 2014. The Lety camp was established during Nazi occupation in 1942 and the pig farm was built on its site in 1970. REUTERS/David W Cerny (CZECH REPUBLIC - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY CONFLICT)
A woman and a child stand next to the fence of the industrial pig farm situated at the site of a former concentration camp in Lety, Czech Republic, on June 24, 2017, during the 'Dignity for Lety' commemorational event organized by the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM). The Lety camp was established by Czech war-time authorities in August 1942. The prison staff were Czech. There were some 1,300 Roma inmates in the camp, and a total of 326 people, most of them children, perished in Lety during the war. In the 1970s, a large-scale pig farm was built on its site. / AFP PHOTO / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A Roma girl holds a flag as she stands in front of the fence of the industrial pig farm situated at the site of a former concentration camp in Lety, Czech Republic, on June 24, 2017, during the 'Dignity for Lety' commemorational event organized by the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM). The Lety camp was established by Czech war-time authorities in August 1942. The prison staff were Czech. There were some 1,300 Roma inmates in the camp, and a total of 326 people, most of them children, perished in Lety during the war. In the 1970s, a large-scale pig farm was built on its site. / AFP PHOTO / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
A Roma man lays a flower on the fence of the industrial pig farm situated at the site of a former concentration camp in Lety, Czech Republic, on June 24, 2017, during the 'Dignity for Lety' commemorational event organized by the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement (EGAM). The Lety camp was established by Czech war-time authorities in August 1942. The prison staff were Czech. There were some 1,300 Roma inmates in the camp, and a total of 326 people, most of them children, perished in Lety during the war. In the 1970s, a large-scale pig farm was built on its site. / AFP PHOTO / Michal Cizek (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
MIROVICE, CZECH REPUBLIC: A memorial to the Romany Holocaust victims which was unveiled in 2000 is pictured 04 May 2005 at Mirovice cemetery next to a huge industrial pig farm situated at the site of former concentration camp in Lety, south Bohemia.The Lety camp was established by the Czech war-time authorities in August 1942. The prison staff were Czech. There were some 1,300 Romany inmates in the camp, 326 of whom died there. In the 1970s, a large-scale pig farm was built on its site. The European Parliament (EP) call on Czech Republic to scrap the pig farm. The appeal for the pig farm's abolition is a part of a resolution condemning discrimination against Romanies which the EP passed end of April. AFP PHOTO MICHAL CIZEK (Photo credit should read MICHAL CIZEK/AFP/Getty Images)
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AGPI will get financial compensation from the state, the company said in a statement. The parties had agreed not to disclose the amount.

"I welcome the decision, we move step by step towards a definitive solution of the whole issue," Culture Minister Daniel Herman told public Czech radio. He said a deal could be signed by the government and AGPI in the first weeks of September.

In 1940, first prisoners arrived in Lety, then a labor camp, 50 miles south of Prague. Two years later, the Nazi occupation authorities changed it to concentration camp, with 1,145 inmates, mostly Roma, as of August 1942.

More than 300 people, mostly children under 14 years, died in Lety itself, mainly due to a typhus epidemic, while another 420 were sent to the Auschwitz death camp.

Late president Vaclav Havel and other officials unveiled a memorial at Lety in 1995. The pig farm, which overlaps the concentration camp location, has remained operational although several successive governments had pledged to remove it.

Human rights organizations welcomed the fresh deal.

"Today marks a historical day for the dignity of Roma people, and a historical victory for the European civil society," Benjamin Abtan, president of European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, said in a statement emailed to Reuters.

"Together, activists and political leaders, Roma and non-Roma, Czech and other Europeans, we have turned Lety from a symbol of shame to that of victory and dignity."

(Reporting by Robert Muller Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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