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Sterilized gypsy to get refund

A Gypsy woman sterilized 10 years ago without her consent will get 500,000 koruna (€18,200; US$25,800) from a Czech hospital. That is the findings of the court.

Complaints about the practice have been heard many times. But the lawyer, Michaela Kopalova, said this marked the first time a Gypsy woman in the Czech Republic had been compensated for such a claim.

The court in the northeastern city of Ostrava also ordered Ostrava's Municipal hospital to apologize to Iveta Cervenakova for violating her rights by sterilizing her in 1997, Kopalova said.

Cervenakova, 31, was sterilized after giving birth to her second daughter by Caesarean section. Kopalova also represents two other Gypsy women who are seeking damages from hospitals, claiming to have been illegally sterilized.

The hospital in Ostrava said it will wait for the written version of the verdict before deciding whether to appeal, the CTK news agency said.

The Czech ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, investigated reports of coercive sterilization after he received 87 complaints from Romani women in September 2004. He released a 74-page report in December that year which concluded that the sterilizations were improper, in that "no consent for sterilization was given that would be free of error."

There are no accurate numbers of how many of the Czech Republic's 200,000 to 250,000 Gypsies have been sterilized, but human rights activists estimate that hundreds of women, if not more, could be affected.