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Czech Republic: Communist Official Sentenced For Aiding 1968 Soviet Invasion

Prague, 13 October 2003 (RFE/RL) -- A Czech appeals court handed down a six-year jail sentence today to a former senior communist official who helped Soviet-led forces crush the "Prague Spring" reform movement in 1968. Judges ruled that Karel Hoffmann, head of telecommunications at the time, committed sabotage by ordering Czechoslovak radio broadcasting to shut down during the invasion on 21 August 1968. He thus helped keep Czechs and Slovaks uninformed of what was happening as tanks rolled through the country.

Hoffmann is the first top politician of former communist Czechoslovakia to be sentenced for actions connected to the invasion that prompted tens of thousands to emigrate.

The radio said the High Court raised Karel Hoffmann's original four-year sentence, which was handed down by a lower court in June, after both the defendant and state attorney appealed the original decision.