News of Radio Prague

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54 years since Communist take-over

Fifty-four years ago, on February 25th 1948, the Communists took power in Czechoslovakia, starting forty years of totalitarian rule. In memory of this day, members of the Czech and Moravian Communist Party visited one of the Czech capital's biggest cemeteries, whilst on Prague's Old Town Square people gathered to commemorate the victims of the Communist regime.

Remembering Jan Zajic

And people around the country laid flowers and wreaths at memorials on Monday in memory of Jan Zajic - a 19-year old student who set himself on fire on Prague's Wenceslas Square on February 25th 1969 in protest at the 1968 Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia. The self-immolation followed that of Jan Palach, who set himself on fire on the same square on January 16th in the same year. Jan Zajic left a letter in which he said that things had gone back to normal after Jan Palach's sacrifice and he therefore needed to become the "human torch number two" in order to stir the public conscience and put an end to dictatorship.

Kavan assures Palestinians

The Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan personally assured Palestinian Ambassador to Prague Sami Abdal Fattah on Monday that Czech foreign policy towards the Middle East conflict had not changed. Mr Kavan's step came as a reaction to international protest at recent remarks made by the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman comparing Palestinian Leader Yasser Arafat to Adolf Hitler. Although Mr Zeman denies having made the comparison, his words have resulted in much criticism from Arab countries and the postponing of two official trips by the Prime Minister scheduled to Egypt and Tunisia.

Czech, Slovak and Polish Culture Ministers cancel trip to Hungary

The dispute within the Visegrad Four over the Benes decrees escalates as the Czech, Slovak, and Polish Ministers of Culture - Pavel Dostal, Milan Knazko, and Andrzej Celinski - announced on Monday that they will not be taking part in a three-day meeting with their Hungarian counterpart, which was scheduled to begin on Wednesday. The ministers had planned to exchange information and experience in the area of entertainment and culture. The cancellation was in protest at a recent call made by the Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban to abolish the Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of 2.5 million ethnic Germans and thousands of Hungarians from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War.

Justice system clamps down on corrupt police

A report released by the Czech Interior Ministry showed that twice as many policemen were found guilty of crimes in the year 2001 than in 1997. This however, according to the CTK news agency, is not because ever more policemen are taking to crime but rather thanks to better and more efficient methods that are being used to clamp down on crime in general and uncover corruption within the police force. On Monday, a court in North Moravia found three former policemen and the owner of a driving school guilty of taking bribes when issuing driving licences. One of the former policemen was sentenced to 3.5 years in prison whilst the other two were each given 18 month suspended sentences with a 2.5 year probation period. The owner of the driving school was sentenced to three years in prison. All four were given fines ranging between 10,000 and 50,000 Czech crowns (between 270 and 1,400 U.S. dollars).

Prague court rejects Zitko appeal

Another court in Prague on Monday rejected an appeal against the three-year suspended sentence for Michal Zitko, the publisher of a new Czech edition of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf. Last year in December, Mr Zitko was given the suspended sentence and a two million crown fine after he published Mein Kampf in March 2001 without an explanatory commentary. The court said the text without the commentary was Nazi propaganda, and charged Mr Zitko with supporting fascist ideas.

Weather

And finally a quick look at the weather forecast. Monday night is expected to bring overcast skies with occasional rain or sleet. Drivers can expect early morning fog and icy roads throughout the country. Night-time temperatures shall range between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius but may reach below zero in the North and north-east. Temperatures on Tuesday will increase significantly to reach 11 degrees Celsius but occasional rain or drizzle is expected to continue throughout the day.