News of Radio Prague

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FAZ: Taliban, al Qaeda militants in Czech Republic

A leading German newspaper has claimed that more than 30 important members of the Taliban and al Qaeda are in hiding in several locations in Central Europe, including the Czech Republic, in order to plan an attack on Britain. Quoting a letter from Interpol to the German police, the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported that the militants had been smuggled into Europe in the last few months. The warning letter, based on information gathered two months ago by Interpol and Europol, said the militants were now in hiding in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Bulgaria. German police have declined to comment on the report.

EP committee tones down criticism of Benes decrees

The European Parliament's foreign affairs committee has toned down its criticism of the Czech Republic over the so-called Benes decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of some two and a half million ethnic Germans after the Second World War. The committee approved a draft resolution on Wednesday saying only that if a legal review of the decrees uncovered any form of discrimination, the decrees should be abolished before the country joins the EU. Politicians in Austria and Germany have called for the decrees to be abolished before the Czech Republic is allowed to join the EU.

Ex-finance minister formally charged with fraud offences

A former Czech finance minister and his assistant were formally charged on Wednesday with siphoning money from a bankrupt pram-manufacturing company. Ivo Svoboda, finance minister from 1998 until 1999, and his assistant Barbara Snopkova have been under investigation for nearly three years. They allegedly stole from creditors by illegally transferring money from the bankrupt Liberta company, in which they held senior posts. Mr Svoboda was sacked in July 1999 after the allegations surfaced in the midst of a government anti-corruption campaign. He was imprisoned later that year but subsequently released after suffering a nervous breakdown.

Memorial unveiled, without Havel or Klaus

A new memorial to victims of the Communist regime has been unveiled in Prague, amidst a bitter row over who was to be invited to the ceremony. The memorial was erected by the Prague 1 council, which is controlled by the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. The row erupted when it emerged that President Vaclav Havel, a leading dissident during the Communist era, had not been invited, but Vaclav Klaus, speaker of the lower house and leader of the Civic Democrats, had been asked to attend. In the end Mr Klaus decided to stay away, and a last minute invitation was extended to Mr Havel. He, however, declined, saying it was too short notice. Supporters of the president raised a sign at Wednesday's ceremony reading "Long Live Havel".

Army psychologist charged with sexually abusing Castle Guard soldiers

Police have filed charges against an army psychologist accused of sexually assaulting members of the president's elite Castle Guard unit. The 34-year-old man is accused of several offences and faces up to eight years in prison.

Weather

Finally a look at the weather. Thursday will be another hot and sunny day, with temperatures in the daytime reaching 28 degrees Celsius. But the summery weather is expected to come to an end on Thursday, with a cold front from the west bringing showers and cooler conditions for Friday and the weekend.