News of Radio Prague

Air force pilot killed in training jet crash

An air force pilot was killed on Wednesday when his L-39 military training jet crashed near the town of Pelhrimov in south-west Bohemia. Czech military officials have said an inquiry will be launched to determine the cause. Meanwhile all military training jets have been grounded until the investigation is completed. At least two witnesses said they saw the two-seat jet flying low before it tumbled to the ground and exploded near a housing estate on the edge of the town. One witness said the pilot might have turned the aircraft as it went down to avoid hitting apartment buildings and a highway. The L-39 is a Czech-made jet that was used extensively as a trainer for the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations in the 1970s and '80s before the end of the Cold War. Technical problems and a lack of training have led to a string of military air crashes in the Czech Republic, claiming 23 lives in the past 10 years.

British immigration controls could be lifted 'in foreseeable future'

The Czech Republic's deputy Foreign Minister, Martin Palous, has said controversial British immigration measures at Prague's Ruzyne Airport could be lifted in the foreseeable future. Mr Palous said they would only be reintroduced if the number of Roma asylum seekers arriving in Britain rose once again. Meanwhile the British chargé d'affaires, Denis Keefe, said Czech citizens denied entry to Britain could appeal against the decision at the British Embassy in Prague, adding that several had already done so. The controversial measures were put in place to curb the growing number of Czech Roma arriving in Britain over the last three years, seeking asylum from what they describe as widespread racial discrimination at home. The British government says it cannot grant asylum to any Czech citizens, because they are not persecuted by the Czech state.

Czech Helsinki Committee denied access to interview rooms at Ruzyne

And representatives of the Czech Helsinki Committee, who have asked to monitor the immigration controls, have been told that for the meantime they can only do so from the departure hall, and not in the interview rooms themselves. Members of the Committee will discuss the possibility of monitoring the immigration interviews with a senior British immigration official at the end of this week. The Czech Helsinki Committee says it wants to make sure that immigration officers are not using discriminatory measures when deciding who to let into Britain. Over 100 people, most of them Roma, have been refused entry to Britain so far. An opinion poll released on Wednesday showed the majority of people were against the measures, although most agreed they were preferable to visas.

150 people sign petition against Roma moving to town

Meanwhile 150 inhabitants of the Czech town of Mimon have signed a petition against plans to move 12 Roma families into a disused school building, which is being turned into apartments. The organiser of the petition, Rene Zubko, said all of the town's 6,700 inhabitants would sign the petition if asked, so fierce was local opposition to the plan. The town's mayor has rejected the petition, but said the people of Mimon were not racists, but merely wanted to keep the peace in a small town.

Upper Austria goes to court 'to force CEZ to shut down Temelin'

Upper Austria's Commissioner for Foreign Nuclear Facilities, Radko Pavlovec, has said Tuesday's lawsuit against the Czech Republic's state-owned power utility CEZ is designed to force the company to removing technical shortcomings at the country's Temelin nuclear power plant. Mr Pavlovec said he expected the court case to take several years. Austria, and especially the province of Upper Austria, is fiercely anti-nuclear, and says the neighbouring Temelin plant poses a risk to safety. The Czech Republic says the plant, which is currently closed for repairs to a turbine, is safe.

Woman sentenced to 13 years in prison for murdering German man

A court in the West Bohemian city of Plzen has sentenced a 20-year-old woman to 13 years in prison for murdering a 54-year-old German man last year. The court heard how Vladimira Cermakova tied up, beat and suffocated the man with a plastic bag before robbing him of his possessions. Two male accomplices were found guilty of robbery and given lesser sentences.

Canadian tourist commits suicide in Prague hostel

Police in Prague say a 27-year-old Canadian tourist apparently committed suicide on Wednesday in a popular backpacker's hostel on Prague's Strelecky island. Police say a call was made to emergency services around 4pm, saying a man had been found in the hostel's toilets with his wrists and throat cut. A team of paramedics arrived too late to save him.

007 to trade in Aston Martin for Skoda

Sean Connery, the Scottish actor who immortalised the suave British spy James Bond, is to appear in adverts for the new Skoda Octavia, produced by the Czech Republic's Skoda Auto carmaker. A report in Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper said Mr Connery had been offered around 1.4 million dollars to drive the sporty new Octavia for an advert to be shown in continental Europe. Skoda, now a subsidiary of the German carmaker Volkswagen, has undergone an impressive transformation in the last decade, from the laughing stock of the car industry to a highly popular producer of good quality and reasonably priced cars.

Weather forecast

And finally a quick look at the weather. And there'll be more hot and sunny weather on Friday, this time with the chance of storms and hailstones. Daytime temperatures will peak at 29 degrees Celsius.