News of Radio Prague

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Tvrdik: Blair to visit Prague in two weeks

The British Prime Minister Tony Blair is reported to be planning a visit to Prague. The Czech Defence Minister said during a trip to London on Tuesday that Mr Blair would probably visit Prague on March 25, although Downing Street has not confirmed the visit. The German news agency DPA reported that Czech officials are keen to make up for the recent postponement of an official visit by the German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder. Mr Schroeder pulled out of the visit after controversial remarks by Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who said ethnic Germans expelled from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War had been "Hitler's fifth column".

Respekt editor to take case to ombudsman

The editor-in-chief of a newspaper at the centre of a dispute with Prime Minister Zeman has said he will take the case to the country's ombudsman. Petr Holub, editor-in-chief of Respekt newspaper, said he would be recommending a change in the law to protect the freedom of speech. The paper, which is critical of Mr Zeman's Social Democrat government, claimed the cabinet had failed to tackle corruption and was itself corrupt. Mr Zeman responded by threatening a barrage of lawsuits for slander which he said would force Respekt out of business. The government later chose to file criminal charges instead. Mr Holub has also filed criminal charges against Mr Zeman.

Supreme State Attorney calls for reopening of Vas case

The Supreme State Attorney has called for the reopening of the case against former Communist prosecutor Karel Vas, who was set free in January after being sentenced to seven years in prison for the judicial murder of the Czechoslovak General Heliodor Pika. Marie Benesova said she disagreed with the findings of Prague's High Court, which ruled in January that the case was barred under the statute of limitations. Mr Vas, now 85, had been found guilty last year of sentencing General Pika to death in a 1949 Communist show trial. The case now goes to the Supreme Court.

Prague mayor back home after nervous collapse

The mayor of Prague, Jan Kasl, is recuperating at home after collapsing following a council meeting. Mr Kasl was admitted to hospital on Tuesday suffering from nervous exhaustion, but was released later the same day. His wife told reporters her husband was under considerable stress and had collapsed after losing his temper during the meeting. She said councillors had demanded an apology for his recent allegations that some of his colleagues at Prague City Hall were corrupt. Mr Kasl, a member of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, has cancelled his appointments until Thursday.

"Poem" circulating about racially-motivated murder

A representative of the family of a Roma man stabbed to death by a far-right skinhead has said a poem is circulating among neo-Nazi circles celebrating his killing. Twenty-two-year-old Vlastimil Pechanec is being tried for the murder of Ota Absolon, a Roma man from the eastern town of Svitavy. Mr Absolon was stabbed in a local bar last June in what eyewitnesses say was an unprovoked attack. The representative of his family said the author of the poem was calling on neo-Nazis to help pay the costs of Mr Pechanec's trial.

Doctor given suspended sentence for negligence death

A doctor from the eastern city of Opava has been given a nine-month suspended sentence for causing the death of a four-year-old girl. The court ruled that the doctor had misdiagnosed the child. The director of the hospital's ambulance service, who also treated the girl, was banned from medical practice for two and a half years. The judge said the two had failed to diagnose the girl with inflammation of the epiglottis. As a result, she suffocated in her parent's apartment.

Pithart in France, Klaus in Spain

Senate chairman Petr Pithart has arrived in France for an official visit. Mr Pithart will hold talks with his French counterpart Christian Poncelet and other senior officials. Meanwhile, the leader of the lower house, Vaclav Klaus, has begun an official visit to Spain with a meeting with the Spanish Prime Minister Jose-Maria Aznar.

Weather

And finally a look at the weather. Thursday will see the arrival of a cold front arriving from the north-west. Temperatures in the daytime will range from eight to 12 degrees Celsius, and there is cloudy weather forecast for most of the country.