News Sunday, OCTOBER 01th, 2000

By: Libor Kubik

Hundreds attend mass for Czech patron saint

Over one thousand worshippers attended Saturday's mass in Prague's St. Vitus Cathedral in memory of Prince Wenceslas, patron saint of the Czech Lands.

The mass, celebrated by the Czech Roman Catholic Primate, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, marked the memory of the prince who ruled his country in the first half of the 10th century and was a leading proponent of Christianity. His martyrdom is today celebrated as Czech Statehood Day on September 28.

Protesters briefly occupy Czech embassy in Berne

Demonstrators have briefly occupied the Czech embassy in Berne to demand the release of anti-capitalist protesters held in Prague while trying to disrupt meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank earlier this week.

A police spokesman in the Swiss capital said the Czech ambassador persuaded the activists to leave by promising he would not file criminal charges against them.

Hundreds of people were arrested this week during riots in Prague that pitted security forces against demonstrators intent on breaking up the IMF/World Bank meetings. Police charged 20 of them with crimes.

The Berne activists criticised the way Czech police had handled the riots. At least 80 police officers and dozens of demonstrators were hurt.

Hurt U.S. activist discharged from Prague hospital

The American protester who on Wednesday jumped out from the window of a Prague police station has been released from hospital and flown to Vienna. Ms. Sylvia Mach, who is an artist, suffered serious fractures during her exploit.

She has alleged that she was badly treated in Prague's Thomayer Hospital where she said she had been denied painkillers. The head surgeon, Vladimir Vysokai, said she had received alternative medicines to opiates which could have blurred her thinking when interrogated by police.

Justice minister disgusted, mulls resignation

The Czech Minister of Justice Otakar Motejl says he plans to resign. He told a conference of the ruling Social Democratic Party in Hradec Kralove that he was disgusted by the behaviour of the opposition who have obstructed proposals for a reform of the judiciary system.

The Prime Minister Milos Zeman has said Mr. Motejl's post could be filled by Deputy Premier Pavel Rychetsky.

Mr. Motejl has been proposed to fill the new post of ombudsman, or public defender of human rights. If elected, he would have to leave his ministerial post anyway.

Czech pop stars reap ovations in Carnegie Hall

Czech pop singer Karel Gott and his guest, singer Helena Vondrackova, reaped standing ovations at a late-night concert on Friday in New York's prestigious Carnegie Hall.

Both artists treated the packed house to a medley of rock and roll classics, musical songs and opera arias.

The concert was organised by a group of sponsors. One of them, Czech-born American Milan Jedlicka, has lately been described as a man of dubious past. He has recently helped organise an abortive U.S. visit by the Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman.

The visit never went ahead after allegations were spread describing Mr. Jedlicka as being implicated in the murder of a Federal drug-enforcement agent.

Czech medallist to join IOC

The Czech javelin thrower Jan Zelezny is one of nine athletes elected to serve on the International Olympic Committee.

Zelezny, who has Olympic gold medals from three games including the current games in Sydney, has found himself in a distinguished company which includes Ukrainian pole vaulter Sergei Bubka and former Canadian track-and-field athlete Chairmaine Crooks.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather:

Sunday will be a wet, overcast day here in Central Europe, with daytime highs between 17 and 21 degrees Celsius.