A Prague court has halted a case centred on Communist persecution of kulaks following the death of a man believed to have been the country’s oldest defendant. His alleged crimes took place in the early 1950s when Czechoslovak agriculture was being collectivised, often using extremely harsh measures.
The Czech Catholic Church says that it is near to sealing an agreement with the Vatican for the return of the remains of Cardinal Josef Beran back to his homeland. Cardinal Beran was persecuted by the communist regime when it came to power in 1948 but eventually left for Rome, where he ended his days.
Several now elderly people who were persecuted by the Communist regime were
honoured with the Memory of Nations award at Prague’s National Theatre on
Friday night in one of a number of events marking Struggle for Freedom and
Democracy Day. The award went to former political prisoners František
Suchý, Mária Matejčíková and priest František Lízna, as well as to
Otto Šimko, a Holocaust survivor who was repeatedly persecuted because of
his Jewish origins.
The Memory of Nations award has been presented annually since 2010 by the non-profit organisation Post Bellum, which records and makes accessible interviews with victims of the Nazi and Communist regimes.
The long-awaited film about Milada Horáková, a democratic MP executed by the Communists in 1950 and perhaps the most powerful symbol of resistance to Czechoslovakia’s Communist regime, officially premieres in Prague on Thursday evening. The film was made by Czech US-based director David Mrnka. The role of Milada Horáková is played by Israeli actress Ayelet Zurer:
None of a trio of communist-era secret policemen suspected of involvement
in a campaign to force dissidents to leave Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and
1980s will face trial, Czech Television reported on Tuesday.
The state attorney recently halted the investigation into one of the three as he was judged not well enough to stand trial. The other two had already been released.
The three had stood accused of threatening to kill a dissident in North Bohemia. The man, who was a doctor, subsequently left the country with his family.
The communist operation to force dissidents to leave Czechoslovakia was known as asanace (clearance).
The police have charged three former members of the Communist era secret police, the StB, for their role in Asanace, an infamous clearance campaign aimed at getting opponents of the regime to emigrate. Sixteen former members of the secret police have stood trial and been convicted for intimidating or using violence against dissidents, but the main organizer of the campaign, Jaromír Obzina died before he could be tried.
A Prague court has rejected a request for compensation from former dissident and Charter 77 signatory Petr Hanzlík who was persecuted by the communist secret police and one of the victims of Asanace, an infamous clearance campaign aimed at getting opponents of the regime to emigrate. Hanzlík sued the Interior Ministry asking for 12 million in compensation for the property he was forced to leave behind and 700,000 for loss of pension. The court ruled that the statute of limitations on communist crimes had expired. Hanzlík’s lawyer has said his client would appeal the case.
The movie based on the life of politician Milada Horáková who was executed by the Communists after a show trial in the hardline 1950s is in post-production and will premiere on October 31st of this year. The film’s director, producer and scriptwriter David Mrnka spent nine years working on the project. Milada Horáková is portrayed by the Israeli-American actress Ayelet Zurer. American actor Robert Grant plays her husband. The screenplay is based on materials provided by Horáková’s daughter Jana Kánská.