News of Radio Prague
Supreme Court reverses previous decision in the legal battle between the Czech Republic's TV Nova and former American investors
The Supreme Court in Brno has reversed its own previous decision on a key point in the legal battle between the Czech Republic's most successful commercial television station TV Nova, and its former service organisation CNTS. In 1999 the CET 21 company, the holder of TV Nova's broadcasting licence, withdrew from a contract with the former service organisation, on the grounds that it had failed to prepare a daily broadcasting schedule. The Supreme Court in Brno previously recognised the withdrawal as legitimate, but now says it made a mistake, and has sent proceedings back to a court in Prague. The court will re-evaluate whether or not CET 21's withdrawal was legal. The split between TV Nova and former American investors who own the former service organisation has been the focus of an intense legal battle since 1999.
Austrian parties fail to agree on Temelin initiative
Several days of negotiations in Austria for a joint-party initiative against the Czech Republic's Temelin nuclear power plant have ended in failure. The governing coalition and the opposition Green Party were unable to come to a last-minute agreement, with the Greens lobbying for a temporary halt to the Czech Republic's energy chapter EU membership negotiations until the summer of 2002. Junior coalition partners the far-right Freedom Party are planning a nation-wide petition next January against Czech EU membership if Temelin goes into full operation. Anti-Czech sentiment is not shared by the Freedom Party's coalition partner, the conservative People's Party, which is calling for negotiations with Prague on maximum safety standards and is against using the threat of vetoing Czech EU membership.
President Havel stops proceedings against priest
Czech President Vaclav Havel has halted proceedings against a priest who was recently charged under a law usually used to prosecute militant extremist groups for hate crimes. Vojtech Protivinsky, a priest from the town of Rakvice, was charged for printing pamphlets urging parishioners not to vote for the Communist party. In the pamphlet Mr Protivinsky wrote that the communists represented a serious threat to democracy, which spurred the head of the local Communist Party to press charges for defamation of race, nation, and belief. Had the priest been found guilty he would have faced up to two years in jail; but Mr Havel's intervention is final and the case is now closed.
Czech official urges "country by country" approach to EU expansion
A senior Czech official has urged caution on the so-called "Big Bang" process of European Union enlargement, which could see up to ten new countries join the EU simultaneously in 2004. Pavel Telicka, Deputy Foreign Minister and Secretary for European Affairs, said the enlargement process must not be slowed down by candidate countries which were clearly not ready to join. Mr Telicka was reacting to comments made by the French Foreign Minister Hubert Vedrine on Monday. Mr Vedrine was quoted as saying that if the EU was planning to include up to ten countries at once, the group might as well be broadened to include Bulgaria and Romania, which are seen as being less prepared for membership.
Customs officials face trial for co-operation with smugglers
A court in the eastern city of Ostrava has begun a trial involving four customs officials accused of collaborating with smugglers. Four truck drivers and two Vietnamese businessmen have also been charged in the case, which involves a total of 13 incidents of smuggling undeclared cigarettes into the Czech Republic from Poland. The suspects are accused of depriving the Czech state of 4.5 million crowns - just under 120,000 USD - in taxes. If proven guilty the customs officials could face up to 12 years in prison.
Police: Ruzyne anti-tank weapon not leftover from People's Militia
Police say the abandoned anti-tank missile found near Prague's Ruzyne airport last month is not a remnant from the Communist Party's People's Militia, as reported by the Czech daily Mlada Fronta Dnes. The newspaper claimed the missile could have been part of a series of weapons that disappeared from militia warehouses in 1990. So far the police have no idea who left the weapon near the airport or why. The anti-tank missile was found during regular airport checks, just a kilometre from the runway.
Record number of Czech athletes may take part in next Winter Olympics
As many as 82 Czech athletes could be selected to represent the Czech Republic at the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, USA, in 2002. Czech athletes will take part in all the disciplines except for curling and snowboarding. 82 athletes would set a new record for the country, which fielded 66 in the last Olympics in Nagano, Japan. The largest single group of winter athletes will traditionally be made up of 23 members of the Czech ice hockey team, which is hoping to repeat its gold medal run from Nagano '98.
Finally a look at the weather. Thursday will be cloudy with fog in places and chances of rain. Temperatures will reach between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius during the day.