News of Radio Prague

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Uzbek dissident set free by Prague court

A court in Prague has refused a request from Uzbekistan to extradite Mukhammed Salikh - an Uzbek opposition leader living in exile after having been convicted in absentia to 15 and a half years in prison for a 1999 bombing. Mr Salikh was arrested by Czech police on an Interpol extradition warrant when he arrived in Prague for an interview at Radio Free Europe two weeks ago. Backed by numerous international human rights organisations, the Norwegian government as well as the Czech President, Mr Salikh was set free and granted leave to return to Norway, where he has lived in political exile since 1999. Judge Veronika Bohackova said the court was concerned about Mr Salikh's fate in Uzbekistan and could not be sure that his trial would be objective.

Havel backs Bush in ABM decision

In a statement released by Prague Castle on Friday, Czech President Vaclav Havel has backed U.S. President Bush's decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. President Havel said he understood the decision, which has been heavily criticised, because he said the treaty was obsolete. He added that he was confident that the United States and Russia would replace the treaty within the next six months with an agreement that suits the political and military realities of the 21st century.

Rychetsky pessimistic about reform in legal system

The Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Cabinet's Legislative Council, Pavel Rychetsky, has said he doesn't believe parliament will be able to approve any laws presented to it by the Cabinet after January 10th next year. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, Mr Rychetsky said that this would also be the reason why the full harmonisation of the Czech legal system with that of the EU would not be possible by June next year, when the current term of office of the Social Democrat government comes to an end.

New law on asylum

President Havel signed a law on asylum on Friday, despite expressing reservations about a clause which grants asylum seekers not living in refugee centres financial support for a maximum of three months. According to his spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, President Havel believes the time limit ought to be extended if the economic situation of the asylum seekers is unfavourable. Furthermore he said the courts, when processing rejected asylum applications, should not only review the legal aspects but also the particular circumstances of the case.

NRG backs out of CEZ privatisation tender

The U.S. company, NRG has informed Deloitte & Touche - the audit company advising the Czech government on the privatisation of the energy sector - that it would not take part in the public tender on the privatisation of the energy utility company, CEZ. The reason for the withdrawal, however, were not the conditions of the tender but the current situation on the U.S. energy market.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Friday night will see partially clear skies in Moravia and Silesia and overcast skies with scattered snow in Bohemia. Night-time temperatures will range between -8 and -12 degrees Celsius. Saturday will be cloudy with snow showers in areas and temperatures between -2 and -6 degrees Celsius. Sunday will also be cloudy with snow showers and temperatures between -1 and -4 degrees Celsius.