Thousands Join Procession in Prague to Honor Vaclav Havel

World | December 21, 2011, Wednesday // 13:59

Nearly 10,000 people have joined an emotional procession to accompany the coffin of late Czech leader Vaclav Havel en route to Prague Castle where he will lie in state.

The procession marks the start of three official days of mourning for Havel who died on Sunday aged 75.

Many applauded as the hearse carrying the former dissident playwright who led the 1989 overthrow of communism passed through the historic centre.

A state funeral for the first Czech president is to take place on Friday at St Vitus Cathedral in Prague.

It will be attended by dignitaries from around the world, including US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, heads of state or government from France, Germany, Israel and Austria and leaders from Georgia, Slovakia, Slovenia and Lithuania.

The prominent playwright, dissident and figure in the resistance to the Communist regime served as president from 1989 to 1993, then as head of state of the newly founded Czech Republic until 2003.

The Czech Republic has declared three official days of mourning following the death of former president and dissident Vaclav Havel. From Wednesday until Friday all Czech flags are to fly at half mast.

Slovakia, which formed part of Czechoslovakia until the post-communist country separated during Havel's presidency, also declared a day of mourning on Friday.

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Tags: Czech Republic, Vaclav Havel, Petr Necas, Czech President, Slovakia, playwright, dissident, anti-communism
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