PRAGUE – The Czech Republic's highest court has upheld a government plan to pay billions of dollars to religious groups in compensation for property the country's former Communist regime seized from them.
The Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by the republic's left-wing opposition, and chief Judge Pavel Rychetsky said his ruling Monday is now final.
Under the plan, 16 churches will get 59 billion koruna ($3 billion) in financial compensation over the next 30 years. They will also get 56 percent of their former property now held by the state — estimated at 75 billion koruna ($3.8 billion).
The state, meanwhile, will gradually stop covering their expenses over the next 17 years.
The plan is highly controversial in a country with one of Europe's highest concentrations of atheists.