Czech Repubilc: punishment for border killings

In the Czech Republic, the public prosecutor's office has launched a formal investigation into the killings of refugees on the western border of the former Czechoslovakia. Three men are being prosecuted: the ex-Communist Party Secretary General Miloš Jakeš (97), the former prime minister of Czechoslovakia Lubomír Štrougal (95) and former interior minister Vratislav Vajnar (89). The press sees this as a move towards justice finally being done.

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Pravda (SK) /

Justice, not revenge

The crimes of the communist regime are not time-barred, Pravda is convinced:

“If anyone asks who's still interested in such 'old sins', they should be reminded of the fate of Hartmut Tautz. The 18-year-old man from Magdeburg died cruelly in 1986 on the border with Austria near Bratislava. Fresh out of high school, he was just a few steps from freedom when he was bitten and fatally injured by specially trained track hounds. He was interrogated for three hours until he died. Instead of providing first aid, the border guards tried to force him to reveal the names of his accomplices. ... The prosecution of such crimes is not time-bound. It does not represent revenge, but justice.”

Lidové noviny (CZ) /

Pity for elderly accused is inappropriate

It's high time these crimes were properly investigated, Lidové noviny also comments in relief:

“The dictatorship under which we lived for 40 years killed many and ruined the lives of hundreds of thousands more. This injustice has hardly been punished, those actully convicted can be counted on the fingers of one hand. It was often said that these things were statute-barred. ... Nobody feels good about passing judgement on elderly men. But they have more to answer for than just petty theft. They led a repressive state that killed people. Pity is inappropriate.”