News Saturday, JUNE 13th, 1998

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And now the news in more detail.

About two or three cubic metres of low-active cooling medium leaked out of the Dukovany nuclear power station on Friday morning, the CTK news agency reported. The agency quoted the chairman of the state bureau for nuclear safety, Jan Suler, as saying that no-one had been injured in the accident. He also said that no radioactive material had leaked out of the plant. Dukovany is the Czech Republic's only active nuclear power station.

On the last day in which opinion polls results can be published, the leader of the Civic Democratics - former prime minister Vaclav Klaus - has warned right-wing voters not to waste their votes by supporting small parties. He was speaking after an opinion poll showed other right-wing parties slipping down to the five percent threshold of support necessary for entrance into Parliament. Meanwhile, the leader of the Social Democrats, Milos Zeman, has been presenting a 100-page book cataloging the alleged failings of the Klaus government. Among the most important areas, the book says the Czech Republic has the lowest growth rate in central Europe, stagnating living standards, and problems in health, education and transport.

The Senate has made the first amendment to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms since it was approved in 1989. The upper house approved an alteration to the Charter enabling the police to detain people, suspected of committing crimes, for up to 48 hours before having to hand them over to a court to rule on whether they can be taken into custody. Previously the police had only been able to detain people in this way for 24 hours. Supporters of the amendment said it would give the police sufficient time to collect evidence.

The Czech Republic's five military districts have been praised as "pearls" of environmental protection. Defence ministry environmental specialist Jiri Adler declared that large numbers of protected flora and fauna were to be found in military districts because there's no industry there. As an example, he cited the Hradiste training grounds in the north-west of the Czech Republic, where there are apparently rare grass snakes and speckled salamanders. Adler was speaking after Czech and German army officials signed an accord on measures to limit damage to the environment as a result of peacetime military activity.

Columbian police have arrested the head of a gang which smuggled cocaine to the Czech Republic last year. The arrest comes as the culmination of a Czech police operation, codenamed Aligator, which saw 60 kilograms of cocaine with a street value of about three and a half million dollars seized in east Bohemia last autumn. The operation has been one of the Czech police's biggest successes in the battle against drugs - and now the 50-year-old alleged drug smuggler will be extradited to this country for trial. He could face a 15-year sentence.