[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 12 June 2006, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Czechs study Cold War murder plot
Derelict watchtower at Czivov on the Czech/Austrian border
Cold War ghosts still return to haunt the Czech Republic
A court in the Czech capital Prague has begun hearing a 50-year-old Cold War murder case in which the wife of a senior French politician was killed.

The hearing was adjourned soon after it opened, so that the judge could decide whether the two elderly suspects were fit to stand trial.

Two former agents of the communist-era secret police are accused of sending a parcel bomb disguised as a cigar box.

It killed the wife of Strasbourg Prefect Andre Tremeaud.

Prosecutors say the Soviet KGB got the two Czechoslovak agents to send the bomb in 1957.

Jail unlikely

Mr Tremeaud - the intended target - was working for the EU's earliest precursor, the European Coal and Steel Community.

According to prosecutors, the KGB hoped that by killing him and blaming neo-Nazis, they could destroy the Franco-German rapprochement driving the fledgling European integration.

Only one of the elderly defendants - Milan Michel - turned up in court on Monday.

The other, Stanislav Tomes, excused himself on grounds of ill-health.

The BBC's Rob Cameron in Prague says the case is the result of 10 years of evidence-gathering by a body set up to investigate Communist crimes.

Few Czechs expect the defendants to go to prison if found guilty, he says.

Czech schools revisit communism
01 Nov 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Czech Republic
04 Jun 06 |  Country profiles


Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific