The Czech daily Právo reported this week that a former Communist prosecutor sent to prison for her role in the judicial murder of democratic politician Milada Horáková in 1950 could be released next year. Ludmila Brožová-Polednová, who at 88 is the country’s oldest prisoner, could have her six-year sentence reduced by half.
Ludmila Brožová-Polednová was one of the so-called “people’s prosecutors”, who were drafted in by the Communist regime to try the democratic politician Milada Horáková on trumped-up charges of treason and espionage. Horáková was later executed along with several alleged co-conspirators, in one of the most notorious show trials of the 1950s.
Brožová-Polednová – the last surviving people’s prosecutor from the trial - was found guilty of judicial murder in November 2007, and after a series of failed appeals, entered prison in March 2009, despite suffering from poor health – she’s almost blind and deaf – due to her advanced age.
She had been due to serve a total of six years at a special geriatric facility at the Světlá nad Sázavou Prison in Central Bohemia. However she could be released – at the age of 89 – as early as March next year, under the terms of several previous presidential amnesties. These amnesties were granted long before she entered prison – in fact two of them date back to the 1950s – but they do create the legal framework for prisoners serving murder charges to be released early.
Under the amnesties (if the court agrees), her six-year sentence would be reduced by half. Convicted prisoners have the right to request early release after serving two-thirds of their sentence – in Brožová-Polednová’s case this would be in March 2011, as she would have already served two years out of her three-year sentence. The Prague High Court met in closed session on Wednesday to discuss the matter, and according to Právo has reached a decision, although the court refuses to say what it is.
There has been a great deal of debate over whether it was right to send someone of Brožová-Polednová’s age to prison. However Milada Horáková is a national heroine in this country, and Mrs Polednová is absolutely unrepentant for her role in the 1950 trial, saying she was part of a struggle against western imperialists.
Brožová-Polednová’s case was not helped by some of the evidence that came to light during the trial, in particular allegations that she had told Horáková’s executioners – “don’t break her neck on the noose – suffocate the bitch”.
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