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1969 Events

Flames from Jan Palach’s sacrifice burn in the heart of Czechs

January 26. The student Jan Palach is dead, but his spirit burns in the hearts of Czechs throughout the country. Tonight, several thousand young people crowded into central Prague to obliterate newly-painted signs reading ‘Red Army Square’ and replace them with ‘Jan Palach Square’. Hour after hour they chanted ‘Russians Go Home’

Jan Palach, aged 21, died in hospital two days after he set fire to himself in Wenceslas Square in protest against the Russian invasion. A woman announcer who gave out the news in a TV bulletin was in tears. Before he died, he said: ‘ My act has fulfilled its purpose, but let nobody else do it’ He was buried yesterday.

Gangland bosses, Kray twins, are jailed

March 5. Gangland twins Ronald and Reginald Kray, who were said to have terrorised the East End of London, were given life sentences today after being found guilty of murder. The judge Mr Justice Melford Stevenson, said they should not be released for 30 years. Four members of their underworld ‘firm’ were also convicted.

The 35-year-old brothers gained a reputation for violence while also commanding a cult following. They were arrested after George Cornell, aged 38, was shot in the head at the Blind Begger pub and Jack ‘The Hat’ McVitie, also 38, was lured to a flat and then stabbed in the face, chest and throat. The jury took nearly seven hours to find Ronald guilty of both killings and convict his twin of the knife attack.

The 39-day trial was the longest murder hearing at the Old Bailey. Ronald, his face more plump and wearing glasses, and his brother sat impassively in the dock. Charles Kray, their elder brother, and other gang members were convicted of being accessories. One of them turned to the public gallery as he was led away and called out menacingly ‘I will see you later’

RFK’s killer is sent to the gas chamber

April 23. Sirhan Bishara Sirhan, who shot Senator Robert F. Kennedy last June, was sentenced to death in the gas chamber by a Los Angeles jury today. Sirhan killed Kennedy in a crowded Los Angeles hotel when he was celebrating his victory in the presidential primary. Sirhan, aged 25, a Palestinian Arab, hated Kennedy because of his threat to send jet bombers to help Israel

Playing on this page Jukebox the UK’s Top 50 singles for the year 1969, also the yearly position the recording’s achieved for the year.

Rolling Stones play for free in Hyde Park

July 5. In the largest of this summer’s series of free pop concerts in Hyde Park, the Rolling Stones played today to an estimated 250,000 people. As television crews recorded the event, and London’s Hell’s Angels ran security, Mick Jagger, decked out in a white, frilly dress and a brass-studded leather collar, delivered a eulogy to Brian Jones, the Stones former guitarist, who died three days ago.

As Jagger intoned lines from Shelley’s ‘Adonais’. And clouds of white butterflies spread out from the stage, the crown fell silent. Then, the obsequies over, the Rolling Stones turned back, as triumphantly as ever, to playing rock ‘n roll.

Peers consign death penalty to history

December 18. Nobody will ever again go to the gallows in Britain for murder. This is the meaning of a decision in the House of Lords tonight. After heated debate the peers accepted that the law passed in 1965 to abolish the death penalty - technically for an experimental period - should now continue indefinitely. The House of Commons took the same view two days ago.

Dr Michael Ramsey, the Archbishop of Canterbury, said ‘Abolition of capital punishment once and for all will help create a more civilised society’. It will rebound to the advantage and honour of the nation’ As usual for discussion of this subject there was no party pressure on MP’s and peers as to their vote. However. opinion polls continue to register strong support for the death penalty, so the debate continues

Danish sex fair is seminal happening

November 1. Thousands of visitors streamed into Copenhagen today with just one thing on their mind - sex. They were coming for the opening of a six day long ‘Sex Fair’, which promised free love, live sex shows and hours of pornographic movies.

It was made possible by the fact that this year Denmark abolished all censorship of film and TV - they freed books in 1967. Consequently, the rest of the world as come to regard the Danes as international advocates of pornography. They, however, don’t see themselves like that. On the contrary , they suggest that the more you prohibit pornography, the more titillating you make it. Hence the Sex Fair which they say will by joyful rather than sadistic.

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