International protest has accompanied the opening in Prague of the trial against six members of the Charter 77 human rights group.
International protest has accompanied the opening in Prague of the trial against six members of the Charter 77 human rights group. Among the defendants is playwright Vaclav Havel who has pleaded not guilty to charges of subversion. With his co-defendants he had rejected the indictment against him. Meanwhile at the Czechoslovak Embassy in Vienna Pavel Kohout protested against the loss of his Czech citizenship; while in London, demonstrators tried to deliver a protest message to the Czechoslovakian Embassy there.
SYNOPSIS: Monday's (22 October) opening session of the trial in Prague lasted twelve hours. The day's chief witness was Albert Cerny, a member of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Persecuted (VONS). He said he was not given the impression the committee's activities were hostile and directed against the state.
In Vienna, demonstrators demanding acquittal for the defendants held a protest outside the Czechoslovakian Embassy. Among them was dissident Pavel Kohout whose Czech citizenship had been withdrawn by the Prague authorities.
Policemen watched as Kohout went to the embassy to make his protest. He said he opposed the decision to withdrew his citizenship and would present counter-evidence to each charge.
He also asked for a temporary injunction to be granted against the withdrawal of his appeal, so that he could return to Prague immediately.
In London, Labour party politicians including Mr. Eric Heffer called the trial in Prague "an international political scandal" and a "mockery of socialism in Europe". Mr. Heffer and some 80 other Labour M.P.s later tried to deliver an appeal for the immediate release of the dissidents to the Czechoslovakian embassy, but they were turned away.