Police investigating man who vandalized Marian Column replica

Police are investigating a man who set fire to the newly-erected replica of the Marian Column on Prague’s Old Town Square on Sunday. According to police spokesman Jan Rybansky the man defended his action by saying the authorities should never have allowed the controversial column to be replaced. He could face up to two years in jail for vandalism.

The column was erected in 1650 as an expression of gratitude for the salvation of Prague from the Swedish army at the close of the Thirty Years’ War. But for many ordinary Czechs, it represented the enforced re-Catholisation by Austria's Habsburg rulers of a country that venerated the religious reformer Jan Hus.

The original was torn down by an angry mob shortly after the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia. The decision of Prague City Council to allow a replica to be put up in its place sparked heated disputes.