News Tuesday, JUNE 08th, 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.

Zeman calls for Kosovo force to protect Serbs from KLA

The Czech Premier Milos Zeman has called for an international peace-keeping force to enter Kosovo as soon as possible, to protect the Serb population from possible reprisals by the Kosovo Liberation Army. Zeman, who said he was no supporter of the KLA, said the possibility of violent reprisals had not received sufficient attention. Zeman also said NATO´s bombing of Yugoslavia should not be extended because of what he described as technical details. Zeman´s comments came as NATO began stepping up its bombing campaign after a short lull, amid claims that Yugoslavia was deliberately stalling over the implementation of the peace plan which Belgrade accepted last week.

Government to guarantee bank loans to Skoda Plzen

The government has announced it is ready to guarantee long-term bank loans to the Skoda Plzen engineering works. Premier Zeman said the government wanted to help the firm avoid bankruptcy, but added that it was not possible to pour money into the company like a black hole. Skoda Plzen has said it will be forced to make some ten percent of its 15,000 workforce redundant this year.

Czech Republic widens ban on Belgian food imports

The Czech Republic has widened the ban on Belgian food imports, as the crisis over contaminated meat, eggs and dairy products in Belgium deepens. The Czech authorities issued an immediate ban on Monday on the import of live pigs, cattle and sheep, as well as the import of Belgian pork, beef and lamb. Belgian animal fats and dairy products, as well as animal feed, have also been banned. The authorities said they were following similar measures taken in recent days by the European Union. The Czech Republic banned the import of Belgian pork, beef and animal fats on Friday, amid claims that Belgian animal feed had been contaminated with the cancer-causing chemical dioxin.

US, Foreign Ministry officials meet over embassy demonstration

Representatives of the United States embassy have met Czech Foreign Ministry officials in the wake of Saturday´s violent demonstration outside the American embassy. The embassy criticised the Czech police for failing to protect the building from a crowd of anarchists and radical environmentalists, who marched on the embassy in Prague´s Mala Strana district following a peaceful demonstration against globalism, dubbed the Global Street Party. An embassy spokeswoman complained that riot police had not intervened until more than thirty minutes after the demonstrators had dispersed. Three policemen were seriously injured when the crowd threw rocks and bottles at the building, and a number of windows were broken.

Far-right Republican Party member to face trial for anti-Semitic articles

The deputy chairman of the youth wing of the extreme-right Republican Party is to face trial for anti-Semitic articles published in the party´s newspaper. Tomas Kebza faces up to eight years in prison for the articles, in which he claimed the presence of Jewish participants at last year´s international Forum 2000 conference in Prague was part of a Jewish conspiracy for world domination. The newspaper, Republika, has been taken to court on a number of occasions for publishing racist material. Republika is often sold on newsstands and at newsagents alongside regular papers and magazines.

Fire-engine driver charged over fatal road accident

The thirty-seven-year old driver of a fire-engine in the South Bohemian town of Jindrichuv Hradec has been charged with grievous bodily harm after causing a road accident on Saturday in which two people were killed. The fire-engine, which had its siren on and blue lights flashing, struck a car at a crossroads, killing the driver and his wife and seriously injuring their six-year-old granddaughter. The fireman faces up to five years in prison if found guilty.


And finally a look at the weather. Today should be mostly cloudy, with some sunny intervals as well as the chance of scattered showers in places. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach a high of 24 degrees Celsius, falling to around eleven degrees at night.