News Thursday, JUNE 03th, 1999

Hello and welcome to the programme. I´m Libor Kubik, first a look at the news headlines.

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

Havel on Tienanmen massacre anniversary

Czech President Vaclav Havel has said the victims of the Tienanmen Square massacre in China 10 years ago did not die in vain, because they boosted the cause of democracy in Central and Eastern Europe later in 1989. In a statement read at Harvard University on Thursday's anniversary of the crackdown, Havel said Beijing's suppression of the student movement strengthened democratic efforts in communist Europe. He said he was convinced that the Tienanmen tragedy and its many victims have not been worthless.

Politicians pay tribute to the late senator Vaclav Benda

Politicians from across the political spectrum have been paying tribute to the right- wing Civic Democratic Party senator Vaclav Benda, who died in hospital yesterday at the age of 52. A black flag has been raised above the Senate building, and flowers have been placed at his desk in the debating chamber. The cause of death has not been released, but Benda, who was a heavy smoker, was admitted to hospital one month ago. A leading member of the dissident movement who joined Charter 77 , Benda was repeatedly persecuted by the Communist authorities and was placed under house arrest thirteen times in the space of eleven years. After the 1989 revolution Benda caused controversy on a number of occasions with his support for right-wing causes, once inviting the former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet to lunch during a visit to Prague. Benda was later put in charge of investigating crimes committed by Communist officials. He stepped down from the post in January 1998, but caused uproar later in the year by accusing the former mayor of Vienna, Helmut Zilk, of collaborating with the Czechoslovak secret police in the 1960s. The accusation forced President Vaclav Havel to withdraw the highest Czech state honour from Zilk just days before the award ceremony. A subsequent investigation found that Benda´s allegations were unfounded and Havel made a public apology to the former mayor. Despite this and many other disagreements over the years, Havel was among the first to pay tribute to Benda, praising his courage and determination to stand up for his beliefs.

Further two humanitarian aid lorries leave for Macedonia

Another two lorries loaded with humanitarian aid have left the Czech Republic bound for Macedonia. The aid, which was collected by the Czech foundation People in Need, will be distributed to Kosovo Albanian refugees staying in refugee camps and with families in Macedonia. People in Need plans to send a total of seven lorries carrying aid for Kosovo refugees this week. Meanwhile the Presidential Office has announced that the Macedonian president Kiro Gligorov is to visit the Czech Republic at the end of June. President Havel was due to visit Macedonia this month, but was forced to cancel the trip after falling ill with bronchitis.

Police in South Moravia detain record number of refugees

Police in South Moravia have detained a record number of refugees after they entered the country illegally from Slovakia. Police detained a group of 91 illegal immigrants, including 15 children and two pregnant women, near the border crossing at Lanzhot in the early hours of Wednesday morning. A spokeswoman said the refugees, from various Asian countries, Iraq and Kosovo, did not have documents. Thousands of refugees attempt to enter the Czech Republic illegally each year, hoping to make their way to the European Union.

Tennis - Novotna's injury cast doubt on Wimbledon defence

Tennis - and Jana Novotna was wheelchaired off Roland Garros centre court on Wednesday after severely twisting her ankle, casting doubt on her ability to defend her Wimbledon singles title later this month. The Czech was playing in a doubles quarter-final with Natasha Zvereva of Belarus when the pair collided going for the same ball and 30-year-old Novotna trod on her partner's foot. Her ankle buckled and she fell to the ground where she remained motionless for several minutes.


Now for a look at the weather. And today is a cloudy day, with sunny intervals as well as the chance of scattered showers. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach a high of 23 degrees Celsius, falling to around 12 degrees at night.

I'm Libor Kubik and that's the news