News of Radio Prague

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Lawyer for Srba files complaint over custody

The lawyer for the former government official accused of plotting to kill a Czech journalist has filed a complaint over his client's detention in custody. Karel Srba, a former senior official at the Foreign Ministry, denies any involvement in the alleged plot to kill Sabina Slonkova, a journalist whose exposés of corruption at the ministry forced Mr Srba's resignation last year. Mr Srba and three others were arrested last week, amid claims that they hired a contract killer to murder her. Ms Slonkova's paper, Mlada Fronta Dnes, claimed on Wednesday that two pistols, 30 million crowns in cash and a photo of the journalist with the word 'liquidate' were found by police when they searched Mr Srba's home.

Spidla to discuss Slonkova case with Kavan on return from NY

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has said he intends to discuss the affair with former Foreign Minister Jan Kavan as soon as he returns from the United States. Mr Kavan, recently appointed as chairman of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, chose Karel Srba for the post at the Foreign Ministry in 1998. Mr Kavan has rejected calls for him to resign from his new post at the U.N., saying he has had no contact with Mr Srba since he resigned from the ministry last year and knew nothing about the alleged murder plot. Some members of his Social Democratic party have claimed the whole affair is an attempt to discredit Mr Kavan.

Svodoba dismisses senior ministry officials

Meanwhile, the new Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda sacked two senior ministry officials on Wednesday, but said there was no link to the Slonkova case. Mr Svoboda dismissed Pavel Jaros - who succeeded Karel Srba as Foreign Ministry General Secretary, and Ales Satanek, head of the financial and investment department, saying he was dissatisfied with their performance.

Pilsner Urquell to open satellite brewery in Poland

Pilsner Urquell, one of the Czech Republic's most famous beers, will for the first time be produced outside the city of Plzen, at a satellite brewery in the Polish town of Tychy. Pilsner Urquell announced on Wednesday it planned to open the brewery by the end of the year. Pilsner's parent company, South African Breweries (SAB), is competing against the Dutch-owned Heineken for market leadership in Poland. Each brewer currently controls about one-third of the country's sales. Pilsner Urquell, which claims to be the world's first pilsner beer, has been brewed solely in the western city of Plzen for 160 years.

Havel told to continue recuperating at home

Doctors have told President Vaclav Havel to continue recuperating for an indefinite period at home, after being released from hospital on Tuesday. The 65-year-old president was rushed to a Prague military hospital a week ago after experiencing trouble breathing during an official visit to France. He was treated for chronic bronchitis. The president's spokesman said Havel and his wife would rest at their summer chateau in Lany, outside Prague, but would continue to work. Mr Havel is serving his final year in office, and plans to retire next year.

Weather

And finally a look at the weather. Wednesday night will see rain in many parts of the country, and temperatures falling to lows of 10 degrees Celsius. There'll be a cloudy start to Thursday, with more scattered showers and rain. Temperatures in the daytime will reach a maximum of 21 degrees Celsius.