News Sunday, AUGUST 15th, 1999

First, a look at the headlines.

Those were the headlines, now the news in more detail:

Police investigate tax evasion allegations against the ODS

The Czech police have been investigating fresh allegations of tax evasion against the opposition centre-right Civic Democratic Party, the ODS. Allegations came to light on Thursday that the ODS had received a sponsorship payment of over seven million Czech Crowns from two Brno-based companies to pay for advertising in the lead up to the 1996 general elections, and that the party did not register this payment. The general manager of ZS Brno, Michal Stefl, told the daily newspaper Mlada Fronta on Thursday that the payment had been made in return for a government tender for a project from the Ministry of Transport. On Saturday, however, Michal Stefl retracted this statement, and denied that he had admitted knowing about any sponsorship deal. A high ranking police officer has confirmed that suspicions exist that the ODS did not register the sponsorship payment and has therefore committed tax evasion. The ODS has so far denied knowing anything about the deal, and party Vice Chairman Michal Benes announced on Saturday that if the allegations are true, then it is no doubt a question of irregular book keeping, and not of deliberate tax evasion.

Mass lawsuit important for further negotiations

According to American lawyer Ed Fagan, the mass lawsuit brought against three German and one Austrian company on Friday by Czechs who were forced to work as slave labour in Nazi Germany, will be important for further negotiations between the two parties. Fagan, who is representing the Czechs in the US, expects that the four companies, which are Steyr-Daimler-Puch, Daimler-Chrysler, Volkswagen and Siemens, will propose concrete figures for compensation in a meeting in Bonn on August twenty third. If they do not, Fagan said, then the Czechs will leave the negotiating table. He confirmed that the Czechs want to receive seventy five thousand dollars per victim, of which there are up to fifty thousand. At the end of July, representatives of both parties agreed that no civil action would be brought, in return for the creation of funds to compensate victims and their families. The Czechs' lawyers, however, decided to file the lawsuit because victims in Western Europe have been offered larger levels of compensation.

Twenty Roma denied entrance to Germany

A group of twenty Czech Roma, eleven of which are children, were detained at the Czech-German by border German customs early Saturday morning on their way to England by bus. The customs officers ordered them off the bus and then refused them entrance to Germany as they did not have the minimum of one hundred German Marks per person per day that is required by German law. In total, the group had roughly this figure between them. According to Western Bohemia's police spokeswoman, Helena Malotinska, the Germans customs officers acted in accordance with German law, without regard to the nationality and skin colour of the group.

Surprising increase in the number of state employees

Despite the increasing number of unemployed people in the private sector, the latest figures from the Czech Statistical Office show a marked increase in the number of people employed in the public sector. The number of people employed by the state has increased by seventeen thousand in the past year, and while the head of the Employment Research Institute, Martin Macha, says that increasing unemployment in construction of heavy industry is a reflection of the country's present economic situation, he is completely at a loss to explain the increase in public sector jobs. The Czech Statistical Office and state representatives have been unable to explain which institutions or offices have been hiring more people.

Defence Ministry representative faces trial

A representative of the Ministry of defence, Colonel Ladislav H., will be put on trial in September for taking bribes. The colonel was arrested last year in the act of accepting a bribe of three hundred Czech Crowns, which he had demanded from the owner of Zeman+Zeman, one of three companies that supplies groceries to the army. The accused apparently demanded one percent of the annual total price of groceries provided to the army by Zeman+Zeman.

Italian secret service breaks ring smuggling Filipinos into Italy via the Czech Republic

Italian security forces have broken up a network that apparently arranged for the illegal transportation of up to eight thousand Filipinos into Italy via the Czech Republic. Eleven people were rested as part of the operation, six Slovenians and five Filipinos, in three cities in Italy. The network was organised via a travel agency that sent people to the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary, and from there they travelled to Slovenia. The illegal immigrants were then smuggled across the border into Italy.


The weather will continue to be rather cool on Sunday, cloudy skies, and showers in places. High temperatures should reach 23 degrees centigrade. And that was the news.