Over five decades later, Horakova's prosecutors face charges of judicial murder

Milada Horakova's trial

Milada Horakova was the only woman ever to be executed for political reasons in the former Czechoslovakia. In 1950, she was tried and found guilty of treason and espionage, charges which were later proven to be false. The Communist government annulled the verdict in 1968, but it wasn't until the fall of communism, more than 30 years later, that Milada Horakova was fully exonerated. Now, an incredible 57 years later, it is the prosecutors from this trial who are, themselves, heading for the dock. A Prague state attorney has just brought charges against one of the two surviving plaintiffs from the trial.

What you are hearing is Milada Horakova answering to charges of treason and espionage. This footage has been helping the Municipal State Attorney's Office prepare their case against Ludmila Brozova-Polednova, one of the plaintiffs at Milada Horakova's trial.

Mrs. Brozova-Polednova is charged with the judicial murder of Milada Horakova. If found guilty, she could serve up to 15 years in prison. But Mrs. Brozova-Polednova is now an old woman of 86.

I asked Martin Omelka of the State Attorney's office why they were bringing these charges so late on:

"She is an old woman, this is true; but on the other hand, for obvious reasons, it was not possible to bring charges before 1989. Doctor Horakova was, up until then, still seen as an enemy of the state. It is true that many years have passed since 1989, but nonetheless, it was necessary to collate a lot of information in this time. We gathered information from the government's archives, and from the archives of other organisations too. Unfortunately, this material was in a bit of a mess, so we have only just managed to bring it all together now."

Mrs. Brozova-Polednova is one of only two surviving plaintiffs from the trial. You just heard a part of her testimony there. She was also the only female prosecutor.

Historian Jan Srb is from the Bureau for the Investigation and Documentation of Communist Crimes. He explains Brozova's role in the proceedings:

"Mrs. Brozova was evidently included in the prosecution because she was a woman. There were several women being accused of crimes during this trial, not just Milada Horakova, and so it was for symmetry. It was a message to the public, when Ludmila Brozova sat on that panel. So I think that was why she was included."

Mrs. Brozova-Polednova's case now lies in the hands of the Municipal Court here in Prague. The court has yet to announce a time-frame for proceedings.