News Thursday, APRIL 13th, 2000

Hello and a very warm welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Rob Cameron, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines:

Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.

Constitutional Court overrules parliament over Maticni street wall

The Constitutional Court has overruled a decision by the lower house of parliament ordering a controversial wall in the northern city of Usti nad Labem to be pulled down. The Constitutional Court ruled that the lower house had no mandate to interfere in decisions made by the local authorities. Last November the lower house ordered the local council to pull down the wall, which was built to separate a housing estate inhabited mainly by Romanies from white-owned houses opposite. The wall had become the object of international criticism from Roma groups and human rights organisations, and the Czech Republic was accused by some of fostering apartheid. Local mayor Pavel Tosovsky said many residents of Usti would be opening bottles of champagne to celebrate the Constitutional Court's ruling.

Authorities ban demonstrations against World Bank/IMF

The authorities in Prague have banned a series of planned demonstrations against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, which is due to hold its annual meeting in Prague in September. The first demonstration was meant to take place on Sunday in the centre of Prague. A police spokeswoman said police would be ready for any attempt to break the ban. The Czech authorities have announced sweeping security measures for the IMF/World Bank meeting, and a large area around the Prague Congress Centre will be sealed off to the public.

Communists again in second place

The largely unreformed Communist Party has again emerged in second place in an opinion poll, three points behind the right-of-centre Civic Democrats. The poll, taken by the Sofres-Factum agency at the end of March, showed the Civic Democrats on 21 percent, the Communists on 18 percent and the right-of-centre Freedom Union on 12 percent. Sofres-Factum said support for the ruling Social Democrats had fallen to just over 10 percent, one of the party's poorest showings in a poll since it came to power in July 1998.

Czech postal service resumes airmail deliveries to Yugoslavia

The Czech postal service has resumed airmail deliveries to Yugoslavia, one year after they were suspended following the outbreak of the Kosovo conflict. A spokesman said airmail and package deliveries were reintroduced following the renewal on Tuesday of regular Czech Airlines flights from Prague to Belgrade.

Vietnamese market trader charged with propagating fascism

A market trader in the western town of Cheb has been charged with propagating fascism after police discovered compact discs by neo-Nazi groups on her market stall. The woman, who is a Vietnamese citizen, was also charged with selling counterfeit goods.

Olomouc searches for lost cobblestones

The authorities in the eastern city of Olomouc say they're searching for the whereabouts of approximately one and a half tons of cobblestones, which disappeared from the city centre during repair work on a local street. The mayor of Olomouc said the council wanted to use the remaining cobblestones to re-pave the town square, but according to a recent inventory they've vanished. The roads department says it never received the cobblestones in the first place, and deny responsibility. The mayor said if the cobbles failed to turn up soon he would take the matter to the local police.


And I´ll end as usual with a quick look at Thursday's weather forecast. And it will be a mostly cloudy day with rain and storms in places. Daytime temperatures will reach a maximum of 16 degrees Celsius, falling to two degrees at night.

I'm Rob Cameron, and that's the end of the news.

Erratum: the news item The Czech Republic joins campaign against Saudi human rights violations of April 11, 2000 should have read as follows:

Czech branch of Amnesty International launches Saudi campaign

The Czech branch of Amnesty International has joined the organisation's world-wide campaign against alleged human rights violations in Saudi Arabia. The Czech part of the 10-week campaign was launched today in Prague's Rock Cafe. The campaign will include the installation of information stands in the centres of the two largest Czech cities, Prague and Brno, and gathering signatures for two petitions, one of which will be addressed to the Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan and the other to the Saudi government. Amnesty International has criticised Saudi Arabia for brutal punishments such as severing of limbs and executions. An Amnesty International member said that over the past 20 years, more than a 1000 people were executed in Saudi Arabia and if the campaign fails to change the situation, 20 others will be executed by the end of June.