News Wednesday, MAY 24th, 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.

Prague 1 council bans anti-IMF/World Bank demo

A district council in Prague has banned a series of demonstrations by leftist groups against September's International Monetary Fund /World Bank meeting in Prague. The groups, including the hard-line Communist Party of Czechoslovakia and the Communist Youth movement, wanted to mark each day of the IMF/World Bank session by marching to the Prague Congress Centre where the meeting is being held. Prague 1 District Council said other groups had announced demonstrations in the city centre at the same time, and that more rallies would pose a risk to traffic. A decision by Prague 2 District Council to ban a separate anti-IMF demonstration was overruled last week by a court of appeal.

Police to reconstruct death of Orlova Roma man

Police in the North Moravian town of Orlova are planning a reconstruction of the killing of a local Roma man, in a new attempt to establish responsibility for his death. Milan Lacko was attacked by a gang of neo-Nazi skinheads outside a local restaurant in 1998, and left unconscious in a road where he was later run over and killed. A local court originally exonerated the youths of responsibility for his death, accepting the state prosecutor's claim that responsibility lay with the driver of a goods lorry, who police say has failed to come forward. The verdict led to outrage in the Roma community, and was later overruled by a court of appeal and the case returned to the police for a fresh investigation.

Cibrian 'disappointed' at failure of justice reform

The head of the European Commission delegation to the Czech Republic, Ramiro Cibrian, has expressed disappointment at parliament's recent rejection of reforms to the legal system. Mr Cibrian said reform of the country's legal system was an essential step towards EU membership. MPs rejected several proposals to reform the justice system submitted last week by the Justice Minister, Otakar Motejl. Mr Motejl, an unaffiliated minister in the minority Social Democrat cabinet, has said he will resign if parliament rejects any more of the proposals included in the reform package.

Zeman, Dzurinda pledge new co-operation for EU membership bids

The Prime Ministers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia have made renewed pledges of co-operation as the two countries strive to join the European Union. The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman and Slovakia's Mikulas Dzurinda told reporters that mutual co-operation towards EU membership was a top priority for both governments. Prague also pledged to support Slovakia's bid to join NATO. Mr Dzurinda was presented with a single gold bar on Monday, symbolising the recent settlement of a bitter dispute over gold and other former federal property left over from the 1993 division of Czechoslovakia. Mr Dzurinda has also met the Czech President, Vaclav Havel, who described the settlement as the beginning of a new era in Czech-Slovak relations.

Rabbis to hold fresh protest against office block on cemetery site

Rabbis from Britain and the United States say they will hold new demonstrations against plans to build an office complex on the site of a medieval Jewish cemetery in the centre of Prague. The remains of the burial site were discovered by workers digging foundations for an underground car park, part of a new complex being built by the Ceska Pojistovna insurance company. The Czech Jewish community had reached a compromise solution with the Czech Culture Ministry and Ceska Pojistovna, but Israel's Chief Rabbi has since ruled that the remains must not be disturbed.

Parliament to ban firemen from political life

Parliament is set to a pass a new law banning members of the Czech fire brigade from holding political office or joining political parties. The ban would result from a technical change to their employment status, making them equivalent in the labour code to police officers or members of the armed forces. The new law has provoked criticism from some members of the fire brigade, who say their profession is apolitical and should be exempt from the ban.


And I´ll end as usual with a look at today's weather forecast. It will be a mostly clear day tomorrow, with temperatures reaching up to 27 degrees Celsius in the daytime and dropping to lows of 8 degrees in places at night.

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