News of Radio Prague

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Czech Foreign Ministry downplays reported al Qaeda threat

The Czech Foreign Ministry has downplayed a report by a German newspaper suggesting that 30 important Taliban and al Qaeda members had been smuggled in to various locations in Central Europe, including the Czech Republic, in order to plan a terrorist attack against Britain. On Thursday Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Gabriela Bartikova said that the ministry was taking a stance in line with that of its Austrian and German counterparts: Austria has said that there has been no evidence to support claims that an attack was being planned from within its borders. It is a claim shared by at least one British Intelligence source, quoted by the British newspaper The Guardian on Thursday, as saying the story of the planned attack was unreliable.

Czech police launch search for missing Bavarian mayor

Czech police have launched an intense three-day investigative search for 51-year-old Erich Kunder, a Bavarian mayor from neighbouring Germany who went missing on the 5th of March, two days after he was re-elected in German communal elections. According to Czech police it is known that Mr Kunder had been in the Czech Republic driving a Mercedes car, a vehicle that police later discovered was exported to Belarus. Hidden cameras also provided Czech police with evidence and the likeness of two men who withdrew 70, 000 crowns, or over 2,000 US dollars from Mr Kunder's account, using various automatic bank tellers in west Bohemia. A team of 200 Czech police will now take part in the three-day search, which will include members from regular and special crime units. Police scuba divers and trained search dogs have also been enlisted to try and uncover any evidence related to Mr Kunder's disappearance.

Statistics office marks drop in number of long-term foreigners living and working in Czech Republic

The Czech statistics office has revealed that the number of foreigners living and working in the Czech Republic has dropped dramatically: the office reports that in the first three months of 2002 more than 10, 000 foreigners, many of them with long-term work permits, decided to leave the Czech Republic and find their fortunes elsewhere, a trend which the statistics office says is related to a tightening of laws for foreign residents from the beginning of the year. During the same three-month period more than 3,000 new foreign nationals arrived in the country, lessening the overall decrease to 6,600. Finally, while the statistics office indicates that the recent drop in foreigners in the Czech Republic is the most marked since 1990, it says the trend will be a short-lived.

Czech Republic opens EU "lobby" office in Brussels

The Czech Republic has become the first of the EU candidate countries to open an office in Brussels aimed at representing Czech businesses and lobbying specific EU political bodies. On Thursday the Czech Ministry for Trade and Industry signed a contract with the Czechtrade agency and several business associations to take charge of the Brussels office, which is expected to cost 4 to 5 million crowns in its first year. In addition to lobbying the European Union, the three-member Brussels office will also work to provide information on the EU to small and medium-sized Czech companies.

Gang of six sentenced for armed robberies: terms range from five to ten years in prison

A high court has handed out sentences ranging from five to ten years in prison to six individuals for organising two bank robberies in west Bohemia in the years 1999 and 2000. In the first robbery two of the individuals from the gang arrived at a local bank by mountain bike: armed and wearing balaclavas they made off with 2.5 million crowns. In the year 2000 members of the gang struck again, posing as police officers in a second robbery. First they flagged down a driver on a road, stole the car and drove to a bank which they entered carrying shot-guns. During the second robbery the gang made off with 500, 000 crowns. The men have been refused the right to appeal.

Weather

Thursday evening will partly cloudy skies with temperatures dropping to 15 and 11 degrees Celsius. Friday will cloudy with rainy periods with temperatures reaching highs between 17 and 22 degrees, somewhat lower than the last few days.