News Tuesday, MARCH 14th, 2000

Hello and welcome to Radio Prague. I'm Rob Cameron, and we start the programme with a brief news bulletin. First the headlines.

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

Czech Jewish community welcomes historic mea culpa

Representatives of the Czech Republic's Jewish community have welcomed Pope John Paul the Second's plea for forgiveness for sins committed in the past by the Catholic Church. The secretary of the Federation of Jewish Communities, Tomas Kraus, said the process of reconciliation between Christians and Jews in the Czech Republic was relatively new, and said the Pope's historic apology marked the beginning of a new relationship between the two faiths. Other Jewish communities around the world have criticised the Pope for failing to apologise for the Catholic Church's controversial role in the persecution of Jews during the Second World War.

Havel asks BIS head for security report

The Czech President Vaclav Havel has asked the head of the domestic intelligence service, the BIS, for a report on the security situation in the country. Mr Havel met BIS chief Jiri Ruzek on Monday, after expressing concern over conflicting evaluations of two special police units by the Prime Minister Milos Zeman and the Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich. Mr Havel's spokesman said on Sunday there were clearly attempts to destabilise the two units.

Spidla confirms he will stand for party leader

The deputy chairman of the ruling Social Democrats, Vladimir Spidla, has confirmed he will stand for the post of leader of the party at this year's national conference. The current leader, Prime Minister Milos Zeman, announced last year that he would not stand for re-election at this year's conference, and recommended Mr Spidla, who is deputy Prime Minister, as his successor. Mr Zeman has also said he will leave politics when the Social Democrats' term expires in 2002.

Government boasts of Clean Hands success

The government says its 'Clean Hands' anti-corruption campaign is finally beginning to bear fruit, 18 months after it was launched by the new Social Democrat cabinet. A report, produced by the Interior Minister Vaclav Grulich and the government's anti-corruption co-ordinator Jaroslav Basta, says the method of investigating economic crime has improved substantially in recent years. The report says serious problems remain in uncovering money-laundering operations.

Asylum-seekers returned to Czech Republic

A group of 12 asylum seekers have been returned to the Czech Republic, after crossing the Czech-German border illegally at the weekend. The refugees, from Sri Lanka and India, have all requested asylum in the Czech Republic. They were arrested by German police after crossing an unmanned section of border in West Bohemia.

Insurance companies put flood bill at 30 million dollars

Insurance companies say the recent flooding in parts of Northern and Eastern Bohemia has caused at least 30 million dollars in damage. Flood waters are now receding, and a clean-up operation has now begun in the afflicted areas. Insurance companies say they have paid out some 300 million dollars in compensation for severe flooding in the last two and a half years. Floods in 1997 left almost 50 people dead and thousands homeless.

Police investigating letter from 'Armed Forces of Moravia'

Police are investigating a letter from an organisation calling itself the Armed Forces of Moravia, which has threatened to launch a series of attacks on the Czech authorities. The letter calls for the execution of leading Czech officials such as President Vaclav Havel, Prime Minister Milos Zeman, and the main opposition leader Vaclav Klaus, in retaliation for Prague's alleged discrimination against Moravia, the Czech Republic's eastern region. Police say they are taking the matter seriously, although many claim the organisation is a joke.


And I´ll end as usual with a quick look at Tuesday's weather forecast. And it will be a mostly cloudy day with showers in places. Daytime temperatures will reach a maximum of eleven degrees Celsius, falling to zero degrees at night.

I'm Rob Cameron, and that's the end of the news.