Many of the Czech dailies today focus on the news of former Yugoslav president Slobodan Milosevic's extradition from Serbia to stand trial for crimes against humanity in the Hague. The papers also all devote space to the death of famed American actor, Jack Lemmon. The Oscar winner died of cancer at the age of 76.
HOSPODARSKE NOVINY reports that France's second largest bank, Societe Generale, has won the public tender to buy Komercni Banka, the last remaining large Czech bank still in state hands, for 40 billion Czech crowns. Finance Minister Jiri Rusnok describes the transaction as the most profitable of its kind in Central and Eastern Europe. The sale of Komercni Banka brings an end to an era of transition from nationalization to privatization in the banking sector. The bank is the largest and last bank to be sold into private hands.
According to PRAVO, the battle between the country's two branches of the secret services continues, as the head of the Intelligence Service has admitted to tapping the phones of the director of the National Security Agency. The phone-taps allowed the Intelligence Agency to listen in on phone conversations between the director with a member of Parliament. Controversy surrounds the bugging devices, because it is unclear whether it is legal to spy on politically- appointed officials.
LIDOVE NOVINY reports on a different aspect of the deepening dispute between the two agencies. The Intelligence Service has accused its sister agency of corruption, while representatives of the National Security Agency maintain that this is an unfounded effort to discredit their office. The two agencies have so far been unable to reach a compromise over the issue. It is probable, the paper says, that one of the directors will be forced to resign.
According to HOSPODARSKE NOVINY, the Czech Republic will most likely convert to the euro, the single European currency, in 2008. The Euro-Union 2001 Conference has estimated that the conversion will take place two to four years after the Czech Republic's accession to the EU in 2004. Entry into the euro-zone is dependent upon the country's meeting economic criteria, which require low inflation and overall stability.
LIDOVE NOVINY reports that investments in the Czech Republic have risen by over 30 percent since 1999. Great Britain, followed by France and Germany, is the largest single investor in the Czech Republic. Great Britain accounts for 26 percent of the Czech Republic's foreign investment. The automobile and technology sectors have seen the largest increases in direct foreign investment.
MLADA FRONTA DNES reports of malpractice in the Regional Transplant Center in the Moravian city of Ostrava. An Investigative Commission claims that doctors at the center have been selling human organs to the highest bidder. The commission believes that there are 210 transplant cases which appear to be suspect. The former Health Minister, Ivan David, spoke last night of the need for better quality legislative standards in the Czech Republic concerning organ transplants.