News of Radio Prague

Verheugen: Irish "no" will delay EU enlargement

The European Union's commissioner for enlargement Guenter Verheugen has warned that a second rejection of the EU's Nice Treaty in an Irish referendum later this year would lead to a delay in the bloc's plans to expand to the east. Mr Verheugen told reporters a second "no" vote would cause extremely serious problems for which he had no solutions. He said the EU had no "plan B" should ratification fail. Up to 10 countries - including the Czech Republic - are hoping to join the EU in 2004. The Nice Treaty implements reforms the EU says are needed in order to admit more states. Last June's referendum in Ireland - the only EU member to require a referendum on the issue - rejected the treaty, amid fears of a threat to Ireland's neutrality and concern that smaller states would lose out.

Police arrest 17 people in raid on people-smuggling gang

Police have arrested 17 people accused of smuggling illegal immigrants into Austria and Germany. Three of the seventeen were foreigners. A police spokeswoman said the group, which is believed to have smuggled around 700 people across the Czech border, was part of a larger international organisation.

Gallery keeps artwork at home to prevent confiscation in Paris

Prague's National Gallery is refusing to let a priceless art collection travel to an exhibition of Czech culture in Paris, fearing possible confiscation by the French authorities. Gallery officials claim the Vincenc Kramar Collection, which includes 17 Picasso paintings, was donated to the Czech government shortly after Mr Kramar died in 1960. However the collector's descendants say they have the legal right to the art, and are trying to win it back in the courts. The gallery's lawyer said the collection should remain in Prague because the French government could not guarantee the artwork would not be seized in the on-going legal dispute.

2,000 march through Prague to raise breast cancer awareness

Around 2,000 people marched through the centre of Prague on Saturday to raise awareness of breast cancer. The march, which was attended mostly by young women, culminated in an outdoor pop concert on the city's Petrin hill. Some 4,500 women contract breast cancer in the Czech Republic each year, and around a third die of the disease. Organisers said the aim of today's march was to remind women that under a new law, all women over the age of 45 can be tested for breast cancer free of charge.

Illegal dog fights being held in North Bohemia - paper

A Czech newspaper has claimed that illegal dog fights are being held in North Bohemia. Mlada Fronta Dnes newspaper reported on Saturday that the badly mauled body of a Rottweiler was recently discovered in a ditch near the town of Litomerice. A vet said the injuries were consistent with an organised dog fight, and said the dog had been involved in several fights in the last week. Local dog breeders claim that organised dog fights are being held in a number of secret locations in the region.

Train driver hangs himself after losing job

Police say a train driver from north Moravia hung himself in his flat on Thursday after being told he was being made redundant from Czech Railways. The 54-year-old man hung himself with in the loft of the station building where he lived. A police spokesman said the man had lost his job because of problems with alcohol.

Maritime aquarium to replace former Stalin monument?

An Australian company says it wants to build Central Europe's first maritime aquarium underneath the former Stalin monument on Prague's Letna hill. The project would relieve the city of the substantial costs of maintaining the monument, which overlooks the city across the River Vltava. A 50-metre high statue of Stalin was erected by the Communist regime in 1960, but was pulled down soon afterwards. A huge ticking metronome has stood in the statue's place since the early 1990s, but the underground chambers built into the granite podium have lain empty for years.


Finally a look at the weather. Sunday will see more cool and damp weather throughout the country, with overcast skies and rain in places. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of 9 degrees. And there's more cool and cloudy weather forecast for the beginning of next week.