News Saturday, AUGUST 21st, 1999

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I´m Ray Furlong and we begin the programme with a bulletin of news - first the headlines.

Those are the headlines - now the news in more detail.

American lawyers arriving in Prague who are fighting compensation claims made by Czechs who worked as slave labourers in Germany during the second world war have said the process is still being held up by the German side. American lawyer Michael Hausfeld said that at a meeting in Washington on Thursday, between German and American envoys dealing with the matter, the German side had been slow in making compensation proposals. Nevertheless, he said a compensation package could be expected next year. More than 650,000 Czechs were forced to work in German industry during the war, and last week the surviving 65,000 lodged a mass lawsuit against one Austrian and three German companies in a bid to improve their compensation conditions.

A Czech Foreign Ministry official, Stepan Zajac, has denied reports that official talks have begun between Prague and London on reducing the influx of Roma asylum-seekers to the United Kingdom. He said no talks had been held on this question in the recent past, adding that the subject had merely been discussed along with other issues at regular working meetings. Earlier on Friday, British Home Office minister Lord Bassam warned a visa requirement could be imposed on Czech citizens if the numbers of Roma arrivals got too large. The latest available figures, for July, show 192 Roma families had applied for asylum in Britain.

The Finance Minister, Pavel Mertlik, has conceded that there could be problems pushing next year´s budget through Parliament. The Social Democrat government has a minority of seats and will need support from some opposition parties. Mertlik indicated that only talks with the main opposition Civic Democrats, led by former prime minister Vaclav Klaus, had any chance of success. But he said he was receiving "not very positive" signals from the party, which criticised the budget preparations earlier this week - in particular, projections for unemployment growing from almost nine to over eleven percent next year.

Police in Brno, south Moravia, have recorded a success in the fight against illegal drugs. A raid on drug pushers netted three and a half kilograms of pervetin, a popular Czech chemical hallucegenic, with a street value of about ten million crowns. Nine people, aged between 25 and 50, were arrested - but they were only drug dealers, not producers, and the south Moravian police said they expected to make further arrests in the next few days.

The public hygiene officer in Breclav, south Moravia, has filed criminal charges against a local producer of frozen dumplings after an outbreak of salmonella. A total of 53 cases have been recorded. Hygiene official Jana Laštovièka told the CTK news agency the dumplings had been infected with the virus because of insufficient standards of cleanliness in the production process. She also called on local people who have dumplings in their freezer to throw them out.

Sport - and Czech ice-hockey legend Dominic Hasek has undergone a minor operation in Germany. Hernia specialist Ulrike Muschaweck conducted forty minutes of surgery and first reports say that the Dominator, as Hasek is known to his fans, should be back in training soon. Hasek travelled to Dr. Muschawek´s clinic in Munich on the recommendation of fellow Czech sportsmen, tennis player Petr Korda and footballer Pavel Kuka. Earlier this summer, the 34-year-old goalman announced that he would play one more season for American team the Buffalo Sabres and then retire, so that his children could grow up here in the Czech Republic.

And finally the weekend weather - Saturday will be sunny, but cloudy particularly in northern parts of the country. However, there is little chance of rain. Temperatures will range between a pleasant 19 and 23 degrees Celsius. Sunday will see similar conditions with temperatures between 18 and 22 degrees.