News of Radio Prague

Helsinki Committee criticizes activities of British immigration officers

The Czech branch of the Helsinki Committee has said that the activities of British immigration officers at Prague's Ruzyne Airport over the past few weeks were legally dubious and may have violated international agreements. British immigration officers were stationed at Prague's main airport on the grounds of an agreement between the two countries' governments in order to prevent Czech Roma from applying for asylum in the UK, following a mass Roma exodus from this country. The two sides have described it as an attempt to avoid the introduction of a visa regime for all Czech citizens. The Helsinki Committee has asked the Czech government to explain on what legal basis the arrangement was made and what form of compensation would be made for unused plane tickets. Meanwhile, the British embassy in Prague has attempted to reassure the public regarding the fate of recorded interviews and private data assembled during the process, saying that they would be protected by British law. The controversial measures were lifted last week in the face of growing criticism.

Czechs ask EU for help in getting their property back

A group of Czech citizens who have unsettled restitution claims have turned to the European Union for help. Some thirty people demonstrated outside the EU headquarters in Prague on Tuesday morning holding up banners with the words "EU, please help!" and "We want our property back!". Jaroslav Andel of the Union for Civic Self-Defense, which represents the interests of some 500 people who have failed to get back property confiscated by the communist regime, said he no longer trusted the Czech authorities to ensure that justice is done. "We are hoping that pressure from the EU and an international commission of experts would help our case" Andel told the CTK news agency. The Union has likewise presented its complaints to the Constitutional Court, the Czech President and both houses of Parliament. These cases allegedly remain unresolved due to legislative hurdles.

Technical error may have caused plane crash

The crash of a military plane near the town of Pelhrimov, southern Bohemia, earlier this month may have been caused by technical error. The army chief of staff general Jiri Sedivy said at a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday that the military's preliminary report of the accident, according to which the pilot lost control of the plane during a difficult maneuver, may have been wrong or incomplete . At this point experts studying the contents of the black box have not ruled out the possibility of a technical error. Their work is complicated by the fact that someone stole some of the remains of the plane from an airbase where they had been taken for inspection. The 28 year old pilot died in the crash.

Temelin moving into higher gear

Operators at the Temelin nuclear power plant are increasing the plant's operation capacity in preparation of a series of new tests. The plant is now working at 10% of its operation capacity and is expected to reach 55% within a matter of days. The current series of tests is to ascertain the result of three months' of repair work on the plant's generating turbine. The plant's re-start has triggered fresh protests in neighbouring Austria but according to an opinion poll conducted in the Czech Republic two thirds of Czechs still support the plant, despite a series of technical glitches.

Eurotel and Radiomobil to appeal fine

The Czech Anti-Monopoly Office has confirmed its decision to impose a 50 million crown fine /1.3 million US dollars/ on the Czech Republic's two dominant mobile phone operators Eurotel and Radiomobil for discriminating against their younger competitor Oscar. The two operators allegedly set high connection fees for calls between their customers and Oscar customers. Eurotel and Radiomobil have said they plan to appeal the ruling on the grounds that "technical reasons" had forced the price up. It is the highest fine ever imposed by the Czech anti-monopoly authority. Jiri Bednar of the Anti- Monopoly Office told newsmen that there was to be no press statement on the case until the appeals process is finished later this year.

President Havel visits Broumov

President Havel has visited the north-eastern town of Broumov to witness a revitalization programme for a region originally rich in historic and cultural monuments which had been left to decay during the 40 years of communist rule. Following a meeting with the town's inhabitants the president said he was pleased to see the emergence of an active civic society in the region.

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast:

Wednesday should be a clear and very warm day across the Czech Republic with day temps between 27 and 31 degs C. The present heat wave is expected to last until Friday.