News Friday, JUNE 30th, 2000

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Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail:

Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan begins first official visit to Ireland

The Czech foreign minister, Jan Kavan, has begun his first official visit to Ireland, meeting with the Irish Foreign minister, Brian Cowen, and representatives of the Irish Parliament. The main points of discussion of his two-day visit are European enlargement and further economic co-operation between Ireland and the Czech Republic. Mr Kavan is also set to meet with President Mary McAleese.

Anti-globalisation protest to take place in Prague

A protest against the upcoming fall meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank will take place in Prague on Friday afternoon. Police expect between 800 to 1000 protestors to attend the so-called street party, which has been organised by the environmental group Proti proudu/Rainbow Keepers and is supported by the Initiative against economic globalisation, or INPEG.

Germany, Slovakia, Czech Republic sign agreement on outstanding claims

Representatives of the German foreign and finance ministries and the Czech and Slovak embassies in Berlin have signed an intergovernmental agreement settling an ongoing dispute over outstanding debts and claims from 1990. The claims date back to trade agreements signed between Communist Czechoslovakia and East Germany. The then Czechoslovakia racked up a heavy deficit in 1990 when East Germany stopped purchasing agreed-upon shipments of Czechoslovak goods and currency. Germany's original bill of 1.5 billion Deutschmarks has, according to the Czech embassy in Berlin, been reduced considerably.

Czech bus crashes in lower Austria

A Czech bus has crashed with a car on the B303 highway in lower Austria in the early hours of Friday morning, killing two people and injuring several others. The deceased have not yet been identified.

Last commander of Communist Czechoslovakia's Secret Police charged

A senior military prosecutor has charged 61-year-old Alojz Lorenc, the last commander of Communist Czechoslovakia's Secret Police, with abuse of public office. The Commander is accused of violating the human rights of over 100 people, including the current Czech President and former dissident Vaclav Havel, and faces a jail sentence of three to ten years. Lorenc had received a four-year prison sentence in May 1993, but after the break-up of Czechoslovakia that same year used his rights as a Slovak citizen to avoid serving the sentence, which had been handed down in a Czech court. His trial was then begun anew in the newly formed Slovak Republic.

Senate passes a law on electronic signatures

The Senate has passed a law on electronic signatures. The law places electronic documents and signatures on par with their traditional paper counterparts, and will enable citizens to deal with government institutions, such as the tax office, over the Internet. The secure electronic system will be provided by certified offices which will be overseen by the Office for the Protection of Personal Data.

David Zelezny sentenced to five years imprisonment for rape

David Zelezny, the son of the director of the successful private broadcaster TV Nova, Vladimir Zelezny, has been sentenced to five years imprisonment for the rape of a 19-year-old woman in 1994. Mr Zelezny had been freed twice of the charges, but an appeal launched in November 1998 led to the recent conviction. That same year, Mr Zelezny was convicted of another rape of a 21-year-old woman and served a partial sentence before being released on probation in November 1999. The current verdict overturned that decision and handed down a cumulative five-year sentence.

Almost 100,000 people sign petition demanding referendum on Temelin

Almost 100,000 people have signed a petition demanding a referendum on the launching of operations at the Temelin nuclear power plant. Environmentalists began gathering signatures this April. Prime Minister Milos Zeman has admitted to agreeing to a referendum in June 1998 but has claimed that deputies in the lower house have repeatedly turned down the motion. Prime Minister Zeman's government approved the completion of Temelin last May, and fuel is to begin arriving at the plant this September.

Mushroom season delayed

And most Czechs will be praying for rain this weekend, as the recent record-breaking heat has taken its toll on the country's mushrooms. The usually plentiful stock has not quite recovered from the drought and the nation of avid mushroom gatherers is anxiously biting its nails in anticipation of the delayed season.

Weather

Saturday promises partly overcast skies with some scattered showers in select regions. Temperatures will reach highs of 25 degrees Celsius during the day and drop to lows of 7 degrees at night. A warm air front will hit the Czech Republic on Sunday, bringing highs of 27 degree during the day and night-time temperatures between 9 and 13 degrees. Skies will remain partly cloudy with some scattered showers and storms throughout the day.

I'm Kazi Stastna and that's the news.