News Saturday, AUGUST 01th, 1998

President Havel's condition is still improving, although there's not yet any indication when he might return to work. Meeting for the third time since operating on the President, his team of doctors has voiced satisfaction over his condition. Havel's personal doctor, Ilja Kotik, said his condition was good and that the minor complications he had suffered over the last 48 hours had not influenced his recovery. On Sunday, 61-year-old Havel had a colostomy bag removed from his stomach. The bag had been inserted after emergency treatment when he collapsed with a burst intestine while on holiday in Austria in April.

The controversy has continued over remarks made by the Czech Prime Minister, Milos Zeman, on Sunday, in which he compared Sudeten Germans to communists. An organisation in Bonn representing ethnic Germans expelled from Poland and Czechoslovakia after the war has said Zeman's comment degraded them and showed an unbelievable lack of sensitivity for injustice. Zeman said Sudeten German groups should not be represented on the discussion forum set up by a Czech-German reconciliation accord, because they had opposed the accord - and he added that this was why Czech communists did not take part in the forum. His comments were also criticised on Thursday by German government officials, but the Czech government spokesman has now said this merely reflects pre-election tension in Germany. Meanwhile, the Czech communist party has also complained - of being compared to Sudeten Germans.

The German police has announced that it has broken up a gang which helped around 1,000 illegal immigrants cross the border from the Czech Republic into Germany. The extensive police action began in December last year, and has culminated in disbursing gang members and issuing international arrest warrants for them. The police said the gang, composed of about 50 Germans, Czechs and Albanians, helped immigrants mainly from Afghanistan and Kosovo illegally cross the border for a charge of around 3,000 US dollars a head.

Archeologists in Olomouc, north Moravia, have discovered a layer of remains left over from a fire which devastated the town in the 15th century. The leader of a team carrying out a dig in the centre of the town said they had first discovered the foundations of a 17th century building which had served as a place for executions, before coming on a layer of ash left over from the fire of 1492. Archeologists have already made a number of interesting finds on the site, including the remains of two 16th century cooking furnaces, and say they expect to find more as their work continues.

And to end with the weekend weather, a cold front will enter central Europe on Saturday - bringing with it cloudy skies and scattered showers, or even the occasional thunder storm. But temperatures will be between 21 and 25 degrees celsius, dropping to between 12 and 16 degrees overnight. Sunday's weather will be much the same.