Press Review

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Well, a diverse mix of headlines to choose from on this day, including the continued wrangling over Radio Free Europe. Friday's Lidove noviny quotes officials at the radio station as saying they may be forced to relocate the station to either the Estonian capital Tallinn, or possibly Budapest, if the Czech government insists on keeping up pressure; the Czech government wants Radio Free Europe to change headquarters within Prague.

That's because the station's current headquarters, near Prague's busy St Wenceslas Square, have been a security concern since last year's terrorist attacks on the U.S. Shortly after September 11th armoured vehicles were placed around the building and armed personnel have been guarding the area ever since.

Radio Free Europe's president Thomas Dine has insisted that moving the station to another location in Prague would mean giving in to terrorists - but it remains to be seen just how the situation will pan out. Lidove noviny adds that Foreign Minister Jan Kavan believes a compromise can be reached.

Moving on to other items making the headlines - Mlada fronta Dnes features a story on the Office of the President considering amnesty for recently jailed criminals. This because of an amendment in the penal code that came into effect January 1st , which may have left recently imprisoned criminals with feelings of injustice.

The paper writes that a person caught embezzling a million crowns last year would have received at least five years in jail, whereas now a person might receive only a suspended sentence for the same crime. The new discrepancies in sentencing is something the Office of the President feels needs to be addressed, so that even those sentenced in the past do not have to feel they have been treated wrongly, the paper writes.

Mlada fronta Dnes adds that while judges may take the new amendment into consideration when processing applications for reduced sentences by those already in prison, the decision is entirely individual: there is no law which could officially bridge rulings in the past with the new amendment. Thus the need for a possible presidential amnesty.

Leaving those in jail behind, a bold headline on Vecernik Praha's front page caught our attention -

It reads: "Suicide drug being used in Czech Republic" - and refers to a story developing in the U.S., concerning 15-year- old Charles Bishop. He was the teenager who deliberately flew a small Cesna plane into a Florida high-rise bank last week.

It now appears that the boy was taking medication against acne, medication being investigated by the American Food and Drug Administration for possible connections to depression and suicide. Vecernik Praha writes that a similar drug with the same chemical components is being sold in the Czech Republic under the name of Roacutan, noting that use of the drug is relatively widespread - with about 40 packets sold each month in the Czech Republic.

The daily notes that the instructions on the medication include only a vague description of "possible mood changes", and says that parents and even doctors are therefore not necessarily aware of the possibility of more serious side- effects. According to the paper, the same package in the U.S. would have a written warning explicitly stating that such medication could result in depression leading to suicide. So, a dire warning there: consult a medical expert, or two, if in doubt.