WORLD : Czech Playwright, Activist Given 9 Months for Incitement, Obstruction

From Times wire services

Playwright Vaclav Havel was sentenced today to nine months imprisonment in a strict-regime prison after being convicted of incitement and obstructing a public official.

Havel, Czechoslovakia's best-known dissident, was one of nine dissidents arrested Jan. 16 during illegal celebrations marking the anniversary of the death of Jan Palach, a student who set himself ablaze to protest the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. They were marking the suicide by trying to place flowers at a statue in Prague's Wenceslas Square.

Harsh-regime jail sentences are meted out to second offenders. Havel, 52, who helped found the Charter 77 movement, has spent five of the past 20 years in prison. In 1979 he was sentenced to 4 1/2 years on charges of subversion and released six months before his term expired because of ill health.

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