News Wednesday, OCTOBER 04th, 2000

By: Libor Kubik

Havel pardons journalists in libel suit

President Vaclav Havel has ordered halting criminal proceedings against two journalists accused of covering their informants in a case involving a smear campaign against a prominent figure of the ruling Social Democratic Party.

The two journalists were the first to uncover a plot to discredit Deputy Parliament Speaker Petra Buzkova, saying it was hatched by an aide to the Prime Minister Milos Zeman.

The two journalists, accused of aiding and abetting a criminal act, have thanked Mr. Havel but said the proceedings must go on until they are fully vindicated by an independent court.

The prime minister himself has described the presidential decision as the latest in a series of dubious clemencies exercised by Mr. Havel.

Communist MP suggest Havel suitable ombudsman

In a bizarre twist to ongoing debates on who should be the country's first ombudsman, a Communist member of parliament has proposed that President Havel step down as head of state and run for the post.

Mr. Vojtech Filip, chief of the Communist deputies, suggested that this would make it possible for Mr. Havel to not only preach human rights but also help to defend them.

Czech UN rights envoy calls for Yugoslav vote recount

Czech diplomat Jiri Dienstbier, the United Nations' special human rights investigator for former Yugoslavia, says there have been clear irregularities in Yugoslavia's presidential elections on September 24, particularly over the vote from Kosovo, now under de facto international rule.

Mr. Dienstbier, a former Czechoslovak foreign minister, urged President Slobodan Milosevic to accept a recount of the vote. He said in Belgrade that the results must have been manipulated.

Mr. Dienstbier, who met the opposition candidate Vojislav Kostunica but not Mr. Milosevic, said he didn't know who was behind the fraud. Saying it was necessary to allow verification of the election outcome and respect the will of the voters, he expressed concern about the situation and warned of a new wave of violence in the Balkans.

Police say journalists threw stones during IMF riots

Police say persons wearing specially marked press vests were among those who hurled stones at officers trying to suppress last week's anti-globalisation violence during an IMF meeting in Prague.

A high-ranking riot police officer said in Ostrava that one such incident in Prague's Wenceslas Square made police ask journalists to leave the scene of protests.

However, the Czech Syndicate of Journalists categorically denies the allegations. Chairwoman Irena Valova said on Tuesday the vests, marked with the letters Press, had been issued to journalists directly by the Ministry of the Interior.

EP draft resolution on Czech seen contradictory

A German official has said the Czech Republic should consider whether its laws, including the Benes decrees, are in harmony with EU legislature.

The official, the CDU's Juergen Schroeder, has presented before the European Parliament in Strasbourg a draft resolution on the Czech Republic.

The document welcomes the willingness of the Czech government to examine the laws and decrees issued after World War II by President Edvard Benes to find out whether or not they contradict the valid EU law and the Copenhagen criteria.

Under the Benes decrees, over 2.5 million ethnic Germans were expelled from Czechoslovakia and their property was confiscated. These decrees are still valid today.

Austrian commissioner doesn't rely on EU in case of Temelin

The Austrian government's commissioner for EU enlargement, Mr. Erhard Busek, has warned people not to expected the EU to actively intervene in the dispute surrounding the Temelin nuclear plant, which was recently completed in South Bohemia and which is strongly opposed by Vienna.

At a press conference in Linz, Mr. Busek also said he was against the blockades of Czech-Austrian borders by Temelin opponents in recent weeks.

The first reactor at Temelin, a Soviet design with Western safety equipment, is to be activated within days.

In another development, the Czech Foreign Ministry says it doesn't believe that the Austrian government granted sufficient protection to the Czech Embassy in Vienna during Monday's anti-Temelin protests.

The Czech ministry said Vienna may have violated international conventions by not protecting Czech lives and property in a sufficient manner.

Teacher who gave drugs to children receives tougher sentence

A school teacher who gave drugs to children has been sentenced to 18 months in jail in reversal of a former suspended jail sentence.

A court in the East Bohemian city of Hradec Kralove has now overruled a lesser court's verdict after establishing that 42-year-old Jarmila Vocaskova had given the drug Pervitin to at least 130 young people including teenagers under 18.

The verdict is final and there is no appeal.

Slovak court halts proceedings against ex-Czechoslovak secret police chief

The Slovak military court in Bratislava has halted proceedings against a former chief of the Czechoslovak secret police charged with overstepping his powers when ordering a clampdown on opponents of the Communist regime more than a decade ago.

Seven years ago, a Czech court sentenced Mr. Alojz Lorenc to four years in jail. But Mr. Lorenc, who is a Slovak, never began serving his sentence.

The Slovak court has now ruled that a sentence meted out by a Czech court can be served in Slovakia. The court said the sentence still holds.

Czech weather report

And finally, the weather:

Wednesday will be rather wet, with early morning lows between eight and 12 degrees Celsius and daytime highs between 14 and 18 degrees.

Thursday will be a cloudy day with scattered showers, nighttime lows from nine to 13 Celsius and afternoon highs between 16 and 20 degrees.