Saturday, 19 April 2014

Communist show-trial prosecutor dies

ČTK |
11 December 2012

Prague, Dec 10 (CTK) - Former Communist Czechoslovak prosecutor and judge Karel Vas, who participated in the show trials in the late 1940s and early 1950s, died, aged 96, on Saturday, the server iDnes.cz said yesterday.

Historians say Vas was involved in the judicial murders of the era.

After the 1989 fall of the Communist regime, Vas was charged with having contributed to the judicial murder of General Heliodor Pika in 1949, but as the case fell under the statute of limitations, he was never punished.

"I can confirm that Karel Vas has died," Eduard Stehlik, the first deputy of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (UDVZK), has told iDnes.cz.

Vas was born in Subcarpathian Ruthenia, a part of interwar Czechoslovakia, in 1916. When he was 17, he joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia (KSC).

After the 1948 Communist coup, he became a prosecutor and judge.

According to the police Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Communist Crimes (UDVZK), as a prosecutor of the High Military Prosecutor's Office in Prague and then as a Prague judge, Vas played an active part in meting out the death sentence for Pika in 1949.

The police say the trial of Pika, a representative of the foreign Czechoslovak anti-Nazi resistance and head of the Czechoslovak military mission to the USSR during the war, was a judicial farce.

According to the investigation, Vas inserted a false document on Pika's having worked for the British intelligence in his file.

Vas has always pleaded not-guilty and said he was persecuted.

Vas also proposed the capital punishment in many other cases. Political prisoners dubbed him "the judge-hangman."

Paradoxically, Vas himself later fell prey to the Communist judiciary. He spent four years in prison over alleged treason. In 1956, he was rehabilitated and then he worked as a clerk and journalist.

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