News of Radio Prague

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Havel ratifies law: Communist secret police files now open to the public

Twelve years after the fall of Communism Czech citizens will finally be able to see all secret files kept on the population by the former secret police, the StB. President Vaclav Havel signed the new law Thursday, which makes it possible for any Czech citizen, eighteen or over, to see any file. Until now, Czechs have only been given access to their own StB records. Critics of the law had argued that opening of the files might lead to the spread of dangerous and unreliable information. But Mr Havel said the need for the truth was greater in spite of the risks involved. The Czech president is himself a former dissident who was imprisoned by the Communist regime.

Wagnerova voted in as judge of constitutional court

The chairwoman of the Czech Republic's Supreme Court, Eliska Wagnerova, has been named a judge of the country's Constitutional Court. Mrs Wagnerova was voted in after an anonymous Senate vote gave her a majority of 40. Her nomination by President Havel was originally criticised by members of the Social Democrat government and the opposition Civic Democrats.

Cermakova sentenced to three years for role in daughter's death

A court in Kladno near Prague has convicted twenty-seven-year-old Helena Cermakova to three years in prison, for her role in the death of her five-year-old daughter Tereza. The court found Mrs Cermakova guilty of criminal negligence, after falling asleep in an alcoholic stupor alongside her daughter, and accidentally smothering her.

Public organisation shows support for Prague Mayor Jan Kasl

The public organisation the Association for the Environment has decided to back embattled Prague Mayor Jan Kasl, who made allegations last week of corruption at city hall. On Monday the organisation sent Mr Kasl a letter documenting 10 cases involving city hall corruption over the last five years. According to the Association for the Environment, documented transgressions of the law by city officials include the signing of illegal contracts, and tolerance of illegal city construction. Last week Mr Kasl made allegations that some officials were accepting bribes, accusations that the Association for the Environment says must remain anonymous until the matter is decided by court.

Senate rejects amendment on child allowances

The Senate has rejected a proposed social security amendment that would have provided child benefit for all Czech families regardless of their income. The amendment, which was put forward by the Social Democrat government, was rejected by the right-of-centre opposition. The point of contention was that well-off families had little reason for the extra financial support. Opponents also questioned the bill's high cost, which would have drawn an extra 4.5 billion crowns from the state budget. The proposal will now be returned to parliament.

Srejbr taken to prison

Czech police have detained former tennis player turned businessman Milan Srejbr, who was wanted after failing to begin a five-year prison sentence in February. Mr Srejbr was convicted of fraud, and had attempted to appeal the start of his sentence for reasons of ill health, an appeal that a Prague court rejected. Mr Srejbr's arrest has not been without controversy: it came just a day after he underwent surgery. The decision to arrest Mr Srejbr under the circumstances has been heavily criticised by parliamentary speaker Vaclav Klaus, who said he would call for an investigation into the matter.

Weather

Thursday night will see cloudy skies with temperatures falling to lows between 4 and 0 degrees Celsius.