News Thursday, JULY 01th, 1999

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I´m Rob Cameron, first a look at the news headlines.

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

Final verdict in Danihel murder case: skinheads sentenced, no appeal

Three skinheads involved in the drowning of a teenage Romany boy in 1993 have been given fresh prison sentences for racially-motivated murder, after their original sentences were quashed earlier this year. The three youths, Jaroslav Churacek, Zdenek Habich a Martin Pomije, who were juveniles at the time of the killing, were sentenced on Wednesday to between six and a half and eight years in prison. The youths received similar sentences last year, but were set free by the High Court earlier this year on a technicality. Following a recent appeal to the Supreme Court, however, the case was returned to the High Court for retrial. There is no appeal against Wednesday´s verdict, but the youths may file a complaint with the Constitutional Court. The verdict was the culmination of a six-year legal battle by the boy´s family and human rights groups to have the skinheads tried for murder. Seventeen-year-old Tibor Danihel drowned in September 1993 after being forced into a river in the South Bohemian town of Pisek by a large crowd of skinheads armed with baseball bats.

Havel meets leader of opposition Serbian Democratic Party

The leader of the opposition Serbian Democratic Party, Zoran Djindjic, met President Vaclav Havel on Wednesday for talks at Prague Castle. Havel, who paid a controversial visit to Kosovo on Sunday, discussed with Djindjic the current situation in Yugoslavia and in particular the future of its president Slobodan Milosevic. Some 10,000 anti-Milosevic protestors gathered in the Serbian town of Cacak on Tuesday, in a demonstration which Mr Djindjic said was the beginning of a campaign to remove the Yugoslav president from power. Djindjic, a leading figure in the Serbian opposition, told journalists after the meeting that in his opinion Milosevic would be removed from power by next year. Havel´s visit to Kosovo on Sunday drew criticism from some politicians in Prague as well as condemnation from the Yugoslav media, after he visited the province without Belgrade´s approval.

Chamber of Deputies rejects bill on homosexual partnerships

The lower house of the Czech Parliament has rejected a bill on homosexual partnerships. The legislation now returns to the committee stage for discussion. Under the new legislation homosexual partnerships would be recognised as equal in the eyes of the law to regular marriages, with the exception that gay couples would not have the right to adopt children. The legislation was almost passed in the second reading, but was defeated after a sharp attack by the Christian Democrats. Opponents of the bill say it would weaken traditional family values in the Czech Republic, while supporters say there is no reason why part of the population should have fewer rights simply because of their sexual orientation.

Former conscript suspected of selling weapons

A former conscript has been arrested on suspicion of selling weapons while he was serving his national service. The twenty-one-year man from Louny, near Prague, is accused of stealing more than one hundred pistols, several machine guns and ammunition from army stores and selling them on the black market. Police are investigating a total of seventeen people in connection with the case.

Czech Radio sells Pankrac skyscraper

Czech Radio has sold a large office building in Pankrac, Prague 4, for a total of 285 million crowns. The skycraper, which was originally meant to serve as the new headquarters of Czech Radio, was sold to the investment company ECM Radio Plaza. Work on the building began under the Communist regime, but plans to move the station to the skyscraper were later abandoned.

Disillusioned CSSD voters to switch to Communist Party

A new poll released by the respected STEM agency reveals growing support for the Communist Party. The poll revealed that most disillusioned voters of the ruling Social Democrats would vote Communist in the next elections. The Social Democrats won 32 percent of the vote in the 1998 elections, but according to STEM their support now stands at just 18 percent. Support for the Communists, on the other hand, has grown steadily and now stands at almost 16 percent. The Communists have repeatedly claimed their rising support will enable them to enter government within a decade.

Only 10 percent of Czech firms ready for millennium bug

A new survey has revealed that just ten percent of Czech companies are prepared to cope with the millennium bug, the threat of computers collapsing due to their inability to recognise the year 2000. The survey was organised byPrice Waterhouse Coopers, the National Security Office and the magazine DataSecurity Management and was conducted at over three hundred large Czech companies. The survey also shows that over half of the companies involved had not yet begun the test phase necessary to face the millennium, the most time consuming part of the process. According to the survey's organisers, the Czech Republic is far behind developed countries in preparations for the year 2000.


Finally a look at Thursday´s weather. And it will be a warm and mostly cloudy day, with the chance of scattered showers and storms in places. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach up to 24 degrees Celsius, falling to a low of 12 degrees at night.

And that´s the end of the news.