Prosecutor involved in notorious trials of Czechoslovak anti-communists dies at 96

A government institute says Karel Vas, a prosecutor who came to symbolize unlawful trials during the post-1948 communist takeover of Czechoslovakia, has died. He was 96.

The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes on Monday announced Vas' death but gave no details.

Vas was born March 20, 1916, in what is now Ukraine. He joined the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia at age 17.

Historians say Vas played a key role in show trials that used fabricated evidence to hand out death sentences to opponents of the communist regime.

In 2001, Vas was sentenced to seven years in prison for his role in the case of a leading anti-Nazi fighter who was executed in 1949. An appeals court canceled the verdict due to the statute of limitations.