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Czech arsonist sentenced to life in prison for deadly 2020 apartment fire

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By AFP  with Euronews
Eleven people died in the fire last year at an apartment building in Bohumin.
Eleven people died in the fire last year at an apartment building in Bohumin.   -   Copyright  Vladimir Prycek/CTK via AP   -  

A Czech man has been sentenced to life in prison for starting a deadly fire at an apartment building last year.

Eleven people were killed in the deadly blaze at a high-rise in the northeastern city of Bohumin.

A 55-year-old suspect -- identified by local media as Zdenek Konopka -- was convicted of arson on Tuesday, a court spokeswoman said.

Prosecutors say the man had deliberately started the fire after becoming angry that his wife and their son had left him to live in the apartment.

A total of 15 people were gathered in the 11th-story flat when the door was set on fire in August 2020.

Six people, including three children, died in the blaze, while five others died after jumping from their windows to escape the flames. The suspect's former partner and their son were among the victims.

Four of the flat's inhabitants survived by climbing onto the nearby balcony, while 10 others -- including a firefighter and a police officer -- were injured.

Veronika Ralevska, a spokeswoman for the nearby Ostrava regional court, said the suspect had struck a deal with prosecutors to avoid trial.

Czech media also report that Konopka was previously known to police and had a criminal record.