News Thursday, OCTOBER 05th, 2000

By Rob Cameron

Police investigate death of asylum seeker in tanker lorry

Police near the western town of Cheb are investigating the death of an asylum seeker from South East Asia, after intercepting a tanker lorry carrying illegal immigrants towards the German border. The man was killed after attempting to climb out of the moving tanker, which normally carries chemicals. A second man was found unconscious and was taken to hospital. Police say the lorry had been carrying several dozen people, but they managed to escape before police arrived at the scene. A spokesman said officers had tracked down a number of them immediately, and police were now searching the area for others. The Czech driver was also arrested. Thousands of refugees attempt to enter the European Union illegally via the Czech Republic each year.

Havel recovering well from bronchitis

Doctors say President Vaclav Havel is recovering well from a short spell of illness, which forced him to cancel his engagements earlier this week. Mr Havel fell ill with bronchitis on Monday, but was not hospitalised. Doctors say he will be well enough to resume his official duties on Thursday. President Havel has suffered from chronic bronchitis since an operation in 1997 to remove a cancerous tumour from his lung, and nearly died the following April when his large intestine ruptured whilst on holiday in Austria.

Court hears new evidence into Lacko death

A court in North Moravia has heard new evidence into the death of a Roma man, who died following a racist assault two years ago. Milan Lacko died after being attacked by a group of far-right skinheads, who left him lying in a road where he was later struck by a passing vehicle and killed. The court was told that the man, a father of four, had been struck by a car driven by a police officer, and not by a lorry as previously claimed by police. The case is currently being retried, after a previous verdict absolved the four youths of all responsibility for Lacko’s death. The verdict led to new allegations that the Czech authorities were reluctant to prosecute attacks against members of the Roma community.

Czech Television criticised over IMF coverage

The supervisory board of the country’s public television network, Czech Television, has severely criticised the station’s coverage of last week’s IMF/World Bank meeting in Prague. The board, which is appointed by parliament, said Czech Television had failed to explain to the public either the policies of the two institutions or the views of its opponents. The station was also criticised for its coverage of Tuesday’s serious street disturbances. As hundreds of demonstrators fought running battles with police, viewers were shown live coverage of the opening speeches inside the Prague Congress Centre. Czech Television has come under severe criticism in recent months, following several high-profile resignations and amid allegations of political interference.

Austrian Temelin opponents threaten new border blockade

Austrian opponents of the Czech Republic’s Temelin nuclear power plant, which operators say is just days away from launch, have again threatened to blockade the Czech-Austrian border unless Prague delays the plant’s launch for at least six months. A spokesman said protestors would bring traffic at all Czech-Austrian border crossings to a standstill from dawn to dusk on Friday, unless the Czech government agreed to delay the launch. Austrian protestors blockaded the border on four occasions last month, but Czech officials, including President Vaclav Havel, have refused to negotiate under pressure. Protestors say the combination of Soviet design and Western technology is unsafe.

Communist MP suggest Havel suitable ombudsman

In a unexpected twist to ongoing debates on who should be the country's first ombudsman, a Communist member of parliament has proposed that President Havel step down as head of state and run for the post. Mr. Vojtech Filip, chief of the Communist deputies, suggested that this would make it possible for Mr. Havel to not only preach human rights but also help to defend them. The Communist Party is among Mr Havel’s fiercest critics in parliament.


Thursday will be another cloudy and wet day, with daytime temperatures between 16 and 20 degrees Celsius.