Press Review

The stunning escape of a dangerous killer from the country's highest security prison on Sunday is splashed across the front pages of all Czech dailies. There are snapshots of the convict, who is described as a highly intelligent, merciless killer without a conscience. Speculation abounds of accomplices inside the prison itself, as Mirov Prison is known as the Czech Alcatraz.

Kajinek had been serving a life sentence, the harshest possible sentence available in the Czech Republic. He has nothing to lose and is capable of anything, says Rostislav Nesnidal, a psychologist interviewed by Lidove Noviny. The paper notes that a team of psychologists who assessed Kajinek's mental state prior to his conviction arrived at the conclusion that he was "unreformable" and a serious threat to the general public.

If the escaped convict has access to Czech papers, he is doubtless feeling gratified. There are almost reverent descriptions of his feat--tourist-like snapshots of the 600-year old prison, maps showing the route of his escape and reports that the local pub is now serving a dish named after him. "We're not worrying," one of the locals told the daily's reporter, "the man wanted to escape from Mirov so he'll be long gone by now. At least it's stirred things up a little in this backwater town."

On a different topic, Pravo carries the disturbing news that 3 Czechs have already died of the Creutzfeldt-Jakob syndrome associated with Mad Cow disease. Medical experts contacted by the daily say they are not in a position to make a reliable prognosis on how many people in this country could be infected, mainly due to the very long incubation phase of this disease. There could be several hundred people who have spent longer periods in high-risk areas in Western Europe, a specialist ventured.

Expo 2000 in Hanover is closing its gates, and not everyone is happy, says Slovo. Overall, the exhibition failed to attract as many visitors as hoped for, but the Czech Republic has no reason to complain. The Czech pavilion was constructed for a capacity of some 3 thousand visitors a day, but most of the time it had far more than that--in October an average 12 thousand people a day.

The fate of the Czech pavilion is still undecided, but its been put up for sale at the price of a symbolic 1 Deutsche mark, so it will very likely continue to serve elsewhere. The next Expo is to take place in Japan in five years' time, and Slovo has just one piece of advice for the organizers: start preparing on time for once!

And finally, if anything can push the convict story from the public's mind, then the famous BBC dinosaur documentary has to be it. The nation has been geared up to expect the best film ever made on the prehistoric inhabitants of our planet and doubtless millions of Czechs will sit down to watch it on prime-time television this evening.