News Tuesday, JANUARY 23rd, 2001

By Rob Cameron

Unofficial reports from Cuba: Pilip, Bubenik could stay behind bars 'up to 2 months'

Two Czech citizens currently being detained in Cuba could spend at least two months in custody before standing trial for subversion, according to unconfirmed reports from the Cuban authorities in Havana. The Cuban state prosecutor informed the Czech chargé d'affaires on Monday that under Cuban law the two men could spend between 60 and 180 days in pre-trial custody, although the Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman, Ales Pospisil, stressed that so far Prague had still not received any official announcement from the Cuban government. Mr Pospisil said the ministry firmly believed that the two men would be released as soon as possible. The two were arrested on January 12 in the town of Ciego de Avila, after meeting Cuban human rights activists. Sweden, which currently chairs the revolving presidency of the European Union, called on Havana on Monday to release the two men.

CT interim director fails to show up for meeting with union leader Falbr

Management at the country's public television station, Czech Television, refused to meet a representative of striking employees on Monday, as the struggle for control of the station drags on into its second month. Interim director Vera Valterova was due to hold talks with the Czech Confederation of Trade Unions (CMKOS) chairman Richard Falbr in an attempt to resolve the month-long dispute at the station. But Mr Falbr read out a letter from Mrs Valterova saying pressure tactics used by striking Czech Television employees had made the meeting impossible. Mr Falbr later announced he would not mediate any further in the dispute following Mrs Valterova's decision not to attend the meeting. Journalists at the station went on strike in protest at the appointment of Jiri Hodac as the new General Director in late December. Mr Hodac, accused of political bias, resigned under massive public pressure, but Mrs Valterova and several others appointed by him have refused to step down.

Czechs to open permanent Auschwitz exhibition

The Czech Republic is to open a permanent exhibition at the former Auschwitz concentration camp on the fate of Czechoslovak victims of the Holocaust. The deputy director of the Terezin Memorial Holocaust museum, Vojtech Blodig, told reporters in Prague that the exhibition would form part of the permanent State Museum at Auschwitz. According to official figures, 173,000 Czechoslovak citizens died at Auschwitz, most of them Jews. Auschwitz was also the final destination for thousands of Roma and political prisoners.

Three men sentenced for selling Semtex on black market

Three men - two of them brothers - have been sentenced to prison for attempting to sell the plastic explosive Semtex on the black market. The men were given 18-month prison sentences after being found guilty of attempting to sell the explosive and three dozen detonators. They were arrested in a special police operation in September 1999. The judge said the three were not part of an organised gang.

Weather forecast

And finally, a look at Tuesday's weather. It will be another mostly cloudy day, with snow showers in places. Temperatures in the daytime will reach between zero and plus 4 degrees Celsius, falling to just under zero at night.