News Friday, AUGUST 20th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I'm Libor Kubik, first a look at the news headlines.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail.


American lawyers representing Czech nationals sent to forced labour in World War Two arrive in Prague on Friday to brief their clients about their right to receive compensation.

One week ago, German lawyers filed a suit against the European subsidiaries of four American companies, including Ford, which used slave labourers from today's Czech Republic. But the firms argue they had no leverage on their subsidiaries in the Nazi-occupied Europe.

More than 650,000 Czechs were sent to forced labour during the war but only about a tenth of them are still alive today, seeking compensation.


The Czech political association Vote for the City has urged all non-socialist parties to boycott the Communists.

Timed to coincide with Saturday's anniversary of the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, the appeal warns against the growing influence of Communism on the Czech society. Its signatories called on all those who share in making political decisions to immediately halt cooperation with the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, whose approval ratings have reached almost 20 percent.


The lawyer defending two former top Communist Party officials charged with treason has complained that the office for the investigation of the crimes of communism has tampered with documentation and removed evidence which he says could be beneficial to his clients.

Former Communist Party chief Milous Jakes and a ranking Slovak official, Jozef Lenart, are said to have plotted with Soviet occupiers in the early hours of the invasion 31 years ago to replace Czechoslovakia's legitimate government with one that would collaborate with Moscow.

The lawyer, Kolja Kubicek, maintains that the investigating body has broken the law with the aim to harm his clients.

Scores of people were killed during the Soviet-led invasion and in the next 20 years, thousands of Czechs and Slovaks fled their occupied country.


A third group of Kosovo refugees will be flown on Friday from Ostrava airport to the Macedonian capital Skopje. A Czech Army flight will carry more than 100 ethnic Albanians from Kosovo who found temporary refuge in this country after the outbreak of the war in Yugoslavia in March.

All persons being repatriated will receive medical supplies to last for three months and every one will also receive a lump sum of 1,000 German marks as a free gift from the Czech Republic. A fourth flight is scheduled on Tuesday and all the 800 refugees are to be repatriated by the middle of next month.


The Czech Republic has expressed readiness to send further relief aid to the earthquake victims in Turkey. Deputy Foreign Minister Otto Pick said on Thursday that Turkey, in addition to a rescue team, had indicated it needs mainly medicines.

He said the Czech Republic wanted to help Turkey to put down the fire which is still raging at a petrol refinery outside the industrial town of Izmit at the epicentre of Tuesday's devastating tremors. Latest reports suggest that the blaze is under control.

But Mr Pick complained that the foreign ministry's humanitarian aid budget amounts to only 30 million crowns, which is less than one million dollars.

The death toll in the Turkish earthquake exceeded 7,000, with almost 30,000 people injured and thousands still missing. The Anatolian news agency said the toll was expected to rise further.

Tuesday's quake measured 7.4 on the Richter scale.


Police have detained two youths who hurled stones at officers after Wednesday evening's soccer match between the Czech and Swiss national teams at Drnovice in Moravia.

Our correspondent says the two men are facing up to three years in prison if convicted. The correspondent says football fans from Brno, Olomouc and Prague had planned to punish Ostrava rowdies for the incident in which a young woman from Havirov was seriously hurt by a stone thrown into a passing train after a Banik Ostrava match earlier in the week.

The woman's condition was described as stable but still very serious. Czech Railways, railroad unions and one insurance company have offered a 100,000-crown reward for any information leading to the seizure of the assailant.


In order to assist the Czech Republic's future accession to the European Union, a Czech foundation has begun distributing thousands of school diaries focusing on various aspects and structures of the EU.

The foundation, Generation Europe, said on Thursday that the publication, to be distributed in schools free of charge, was a Czech version of the diary which was being circulated in 15 European countries.


The Czech National Bank announced on Thursday that its computer systems and networks are ready to face the Millennium Bug -- the scare often mentioned in connection with transition to the year 2000.

The bank's governing council said that all cooperating commercial banks had been tested for the ability of their computers to cope with the problem.


And finally, a look at the weather in the Czech Republic.

Friday will be a rather wet but still relatively warm day, with the highest temperatures between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius and some scattered thunderstorms. The temperatures will drop between 10 and 14 degrees in the night.

On Saturday and Sunday, a high-pressure area will bring us cloudy skies and some scattered showers. Daytime highs between 19 and 23 Celsius on both days, night-time lows between eight and 12 degrees.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.