News of Radio Prague

EU candidates appeal to Irish voters: say "Yes" to Nice

President Vaclav Havel and fellow leaders of EU candidate countries have appealed to the people of Ireland to vote "yes" to the EU's enlargement treaty, saying rejection would be a "great disappointment". In a joint statement issued ahead of Saturday's referendum in Ireland, the presidents of Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic said rejecting the Nice Treaty - which introduces reforms crucial to the enlargement process - would squander a historic opportunity. Ireland, the only EU member required to hold a referendum on the issue, rejected the treaty last year in a vote marked by low turnout and confusion over what the agreement would mean.

Prague residents warned of riots during NATO summit

The residents of Prague have been warned of possible clashes between demonstrators and riot police during next month's NATO summit. Officials said foreign visitors could also expect long waits at passport control on the country's borders. Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said he was confident police would be ready to protect the thousands of summit-goers, including military chiefs and heads of state from 46 countries, who will be attending the meeting on November 21 and 22. Around 12,000 demonstrators are expected to arrive in Prague, and Mr Gross said the same number of policemen would be deployed to maintain order.

Czech divers released from custody in Croatia

Czech Radio has reported that two Czech scuba divers being held by the Croatian authorities in connection with the death of a colleague have been released from custody. The two were arrested five weeks ago, after the diver was found dead with stab wounds in an underwater cave. Croatian police accused the two of killing the man and hiding his body, but other members of the expedition said the man had stabbed himself to avoid suffocation after he ran out of oxygen. The pair were charged with murder after failing a lie detector test, but forensic experts later said there was no evidence to support the murder theory. The two men will arrive home on Thursday.

Parliament agrees to scale down medical contingent in Afghanistan

The lower house has agreed to radically scale down the Czech Army's medical contingent serving in Afghanistan. The army field hospital will leave the country at the end of this year, although a team of 20 doctors will remain in Afghanistan for another 12 months. The parliament also approved the deployment of the Czech Army anti-chemical unit in Kuwait, as part of the U.S.-led military operation in the region.

Czech Airlines pilot sentenced for taking gun on board

A Czech Airlines pilot has been sentenced to four weeks in prison by a court in Birmingham, after carrying a pistol and ammunition on board with him on a flight to Britain. Captain Vaclav Pojer admitted to carrying the weapon, but told the court he had forgotten to take the gun out of his suitcase before the flight. The judge accepted Mr Pojer's defence that possession of weapons was more common in the Czech Republic than Britain. However she said that as a pilot, Mr Pojer was fully aware of the dangers of taking a loaded gun into the cockpit.

Weather forecast

Thursday will be another mild and cloudy day, with rain and showers in places. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 14 to 18 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of seven degrees.