News Wednesday, MAY 17th, 2000

Hello and a very warm 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 more detail.

Appeal court overturns ban on anti-IMF demonstration

A court of appeal has overturned a decision banning a demonstration against September's International Monetary Fund /World Bank meeting in Prague. The appeal court said Prague 2 District Court had had no right to ban the demonstration, organised by the Initiative Against Economic Globalisation. The organisation wanted to protest against the policies of the IMF and the World Bank, who hold their annual meeting later this year in Prague. There is no appeal against Tuesday's ruling.

STEM: 45 percent of Czech teenagers regular smokers

A new survey carried out by the STEM research agency shows that almost half of Czech teenagers are regular smokers. The survey found that 45 percent of young people between the ages of 14 and 18 smoked. The survey also found that almost half of the adult population had no idea it was now illegal to sell cigarettes to people under the age of 18, as stipulated by a new law. Some 60 percent of tobacconists contacted by STEM admitted to selling cigarettes to teenagers under the age of 18 on a regular basis.

Havel: Klaus 'too confrontational' for Czech President

The Czech President Vaclav Havel has said the former Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus might be 'too confrontational' to succeed him as president. Mr Klaus, chairman of the lower house and leader of the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, has been tipped to succeed Mr Havel when his term expires in three years' time, although he has so far refused to confirm he will stand for the post. President Havel said in an interview for the BBC on Tuesday that Mr Klaus was a man of strong opinions that bordered on confrontational. Mr Havel repeated his view that he would like to see a non-political candidate elected as the next Czech president. State attorney to appeal over race attack

The state attorney's office in the north-eastern town of Jesenik say they are appealing to the Justice Minister, Otakar Motejl, in a case against six far-right skinheads accused of severely beating a Roma man last year. A local court set free four of the youths in January, and on Monday gave the remaining two suspended sentences. The state attorney's office said the courts had ignored evidence that the attack was premeditated. The man was beaten to the ground with baseball bats and snooker cues in an attack last June.

Polish official - Czech spying affair 'largely resolved'

The leader of a Polish parliamentary delegation has said the controversy surrounding an alleged Czech spy working in Poland had now largely been resolved. Jan Lityrsky, chairman of the Polish parliament's committee for the intelligence services, told reporters in Prague that the alleged Czech spy was no longer active in Poland. According to reports in the Czech and Polish media, Warsaw was unhappy with Prague's handling of the spying affair. The Czech authorities are said to have claimed that the alleged spy was acting independently, and not on behalf of the Czech intelligence services. This explanation was said to have received a sceptical reaction in Warsaw.

Gross launches new mobile border police units

The Interior Minister Stanislav Gross has said new mobile police units will begin patrolling the border with Germany and Slovakia, in a bid to crack down on immigrants crossing the Czech border illegally. The units will patrol wooded areas along the border which are used to smuggle illegal immigrants from Slovakia into the Czech Republic and on to the European Union.

Austrian AA warns tourists of Czech 'highway robbery'

Austria's leading motoring organisation has warned tourists to be wary of modern-day highway robbery on Czech roads. The organisation said robbers let down tyres at petrol stations or caused minor accidents in order to isolate their victims, and then stopped by the roadside to offer help. The victims were then robbed of all their valuables. According to Czech police figures quoted by the organisation, there were on average three such robberies every day on the motorway between Prague and Brno alone.


And I´ll end as usual with a look at Thursday's weather forecast. The hot and sunny conditions will finally give way on Thursday to cloudy and rainy weather, with temperatures dropping to around 22 degrees Celsius. Thunderstorms and hailstorms are predicted for some parts of the country, with night-time temperatures dropping to 12 degrees Celsius.

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