Press Review

All the Czech papers today report on the visit to Cuba by Senate chairman Petr Pithart. Both PRAVO and LIDOVE NOVINY feature a photo of Mr. Pithart embracing Lucie Pilipova, the wife of Czech MP Ivan Pilip, imprisoned on charges of subversion. Mr Pithart is in Cuba to try and negotiate their release.

Mr. Pithart has described his first round of talks with Cuban members of parliament about the legislative and political aspects of the case as "very frank, hard and open". "We're only at the beginning of a series of discussions," Pithart emphasised to journalists in Havana. PRAVO says its learned from an unnamed source that Czech politicians are examining the prospect of having Pilip and Bubenik exchanged for several Cuban agents jailed in the USA.

"Hunter Who Shot Dead Man Receives Suspended Sentence," announces MLADA FRONTA DNES. The paper carries the frankly amazing story of a 58-year old hunter, who shot dead a man while aiming at a wild boar. His lawyer is demanding the release of his client, saying it was the unfortunate by-passer himself who was to blame, because he walked into a field usually used only by hunters. Josef Prikryl received a 10-month suspended sentence and his hunting license has been suspended for 4 years.

The judge said a stricter sentence would only multiple the suffering the man must be going through. The hunter had never been prosecuted before, he recently underwent serious heart surgery, and the accident will haunt him for a long time, the judge told MLADA FRONTA DNES.

LIDOVE NOVINY carries photos from earthquake-stricken India, and voices complaint by Czech rescuers, who finally left for India on Tuesday. The Czech government came under a barrage of criticism from rescuers for dragging its feet in finding the money to dispatch the Czech rescue team immediately after the catastrophe. The leader of the emergency rescue dog unit, Jaroslav Sedlak, told the paper it seemed as if the government had a different approach to natural disasters in various parts of the world. Mr. Sedlak and three other rescuers with specially trained dogs finally flew to India at the expense of an international rescue dog organisation.

Czech rescuers say during the recent quake in El Salvador they also had to stay at home, but two years ago, when an earthquake shook wealthy Taiwan, Czech aid was sent immediately.

And finally, ZEMSKE NOVINY informs readers about the flu epidemic that is gradually spreading throughout the country. In many regions, hygiene officers had to close primary and secondary schools for several weeks of unscheduled holidays, because thousands of schoolchildren and students are falling ill every day. Even the dreaded mid-year reports will have to be given out to pupils later than usual, writes ZEMSKE NOVINY.