News of Radio Prague

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Search for missing children continues

The Interior Ministry has promised to do all in its power to assist in the search of two Czech children who have been missing for two weeks. Accompanied by their Belgian brother-in-law, Stephan Knaepen, the 10-year old boy and 12-year old girl left the Moravian town of Brno on July 30th for a tour of South Moravian castles and have not been seen since. The search was intensified last week after police discovered Mr. Knaepen's body near the village of Nebovidy in the Brno region. Police believe he had committed suicide. The two children, however, were missing without a trace and investigators have not even been able to find their tent and three sleeping bags that they were believed to have had with them. A helicopter with thermal imaging equipment joined the search on Sunday.

Havel concerned over growing EU opposition

The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, has expressed concern over the growing number of Czech citizens opposing EU membership. According to his spokesman, Ladislav Spacek, President Havel finds the results of this year's extensive opinion poll, conducted by the STEM and Sofres Factum agencies, alarming. In May, this year, 22% of those polled were against the Czech Republic joining the EU. Last year, in October, it was seven percent less. Despite his concern, President Havel is still confident that the majority of Czechs would vote for EU membership in a referendum, as he believes it to be the only sensible decision.

Falun Gong followers persecuted in China

A group of followers of the Chinese Falun Gong meditation practice gathered on Prague's Namesti Miru and Tylovo squares on Monday. Surrounded by photographs of the persecution of Falun Gong followers, the group travels around democratic countries to raise awareness of human rights violations in China. Falun Gong has become quite popular in the country, enjoying some 70 million followers. A Falun Gong gathering in China in April this year was the largest public gathering since that of the Tien An Men massacre in 1989, and its participants believe that the Chinese government has come to fear the movement due to its popularity. The Czech-born, Michaela Haluzova, now called Misha Halu, is part of the group that's currently in Prague and told reporters that the Chinese government tries to arrest Falun Gong followers and discredit their practices. Believers claim that Falun Gong is simply about leading a better, more tolerant and healthier life.

EU to share BSE financial burden

The Czech Agriculture Minister, Jan Fencl, has turned to the European Commission to ask for EU support for the financing BSE testing. The Czech Republic has been testing cattle older than 30 months for BSE - or mad cow disease - since June 12th, in reaction to the confirmation of its first case of the disease four days earlier. According to Hugo Roldan, from the ministry's press department, it is only fair to request that the EU bare some of the responsibility since the BSE originated in an EU state. The financial burden stemming from its consequences and the efforts made to increase the safety of beef must therefore be shared, Mr. Roldan added. The ministry expects the total cost of testing to reach 155 million Czech crowns, or some 4.1 million U.S. dollars, this year.

Senators oppose Czech TV council electoral process

23 Czech Senators from the Four-Party Coalition have filed a complaint with the constitutional court, in which they oppose the way the Czech TV Council is elected. In their complaint, the senators propose to make it unconstitutional for Parliament to have the right to create a committee to choose the candidates for the television Council. The Senators believe that the law, as it stands now, limits the right of Czech citizen to be equally considered for public posts. A new Czech TV council was elected by MPs in May and received heavy criticism from many of the television network's staff as well as members of the Four-Party Coalition. As a result, the council had to be re-elected.

Police detain three suspected of torture

Police say they have tracked down three men from the town of Kromeriz who, at the beginning of this month, are believed to have tortured two hitchhikers. The three allegedly drove the 16 and 19 year olds to a deserted recreational spot where they forced them to take off their clothes before tying them to a tree. They are then said to have tortured the two victims by putting out cigarettes on their naked bodies and threatening them with a knife and a gun. Aged between 23 and 29 years and already having criminal records, the three suspects have been detained for questioning.

State relies on media for fast public warnings

The Czech News Agency reported on Monday that the Czech Republic too often relies on the media to quickly spread public warnings. Although a warning system does exist, it fails to be effective in cases where there is limited time. In the case of the anti-Cholesterol drug Cholstat, for example, which was withdrawn from the Czech market on Friday, the state had no system in place to deliver the news to pharmacies before the weekend, and relied on the media to do so instead.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Tuesday shall have partially clear skies with showers in places and temperatures ranging between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius. Tuesday night is expected to have cloudy skies with occasional showers in the North and north-eastern parts of the country. Night-time temperatures shall range between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius. Wednesday should have clear skies and temperatures between 27 and 31 degrees Celsius.