Press Review

Iraq, photo: CTK

Today's papers feature quite a range of stories. The main articles, however, continue to look at the latest developments in the war in Iraq. All papers lead with US and British forces targeting Saddam Hussein on Tuesday, and Czech TV's Michal Kubal gives an account of his experiences when a US tank opened fire on the hotel housing international journalists in Baghdad. On the domestic front, it's the bank robbery that left one dead and the mysterious disappearance of an Italian banker that make the headlines.

Iraq, photo: CTK
Today's papers feature quite a range of stories. The main articles, however, continue to look at the latest developments in the war in Iraq. All papers lead with US and British forces targeting Saddam Hussein on Tuesday, and Czech TV's Michal Kubal gives an account of his experiences when a US tank opened fire on the hotel housing international journalists in Baghdad. On the domestic front, it's the bank robbery that left one dead and the mysterious disappearance of an Italian banker that make the headlines.

MLADA FRONTA DNES looks into the disappearance of an Italian financier in great detail in the paper's economics section. A day before the future of the collapsing Ostrava-based Union Banka was to be discussed at an important general meeting, the representative of two of the main owners of the bank, Giuseppe Roselli, disappeared. The paper points to a number of fishy developments that have tainted Union Banka's reputation in the past few days.

One such suspicious development, the paper says, was the halting of a public tender on Friday, allegedly because of fake documents. But while MLADA FRONTA DNES is still in the dark about how and why Mr Roselli disappeared, LIDOVE NOVINY states that he was clearly kidnapped. Union Banka's collapse is developing into a bad detective story, it writes, adding that Mr Roselli turned up at a police station on Tuesday evening, confirming he had been kidnapped. Since Mr Roselli bears the signature rights to all important steps concerning the bank, it is only logical that he was kidnapped to profit others, the paper concludes.

PRAVO writes that Vladimir Spidla's Social Democratic Party - which has been trying to distance itself from the Communists - will have to join forces with the extreme left in order to assure that a proposal for a new rent law makes it through the first reading in parliament. The Social Democrats have not been able to come to an agreement over the proposal - which strongly defends the rights of tenants - with their junior ruling coalition partners, the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union. Communist deputies, on the other hand, have guaranteed their support and have even come up with their own version of a draft law.

Following a number of fatal bus accidents, HOSPODARSKE NOVINY decides to look into the safety of trips abroad and comes to the shocking conclusion that Czech transport authorities fail to monitor bus drivers. Most drivers, the paper says, fail to respect basic rules and regulations. During trips to Spain or Greece, they often drive longer than they are permitted. The paper writes that tour operators defend themselves by claiming they would have to either pay another bus driver or ensure that drivers get a good night's sleep before continuing with a trip. This, they say, would significantly increase travel costs, making it more expensive for Czechs.

LIDOVE NOVINY carries an article reporting on a recent report made by a very troubled Czech citizen, Vladimir Zajic, who has been teaching at a driving school for thirty years. On Sunday, he almost had a road accident because of a car that was parked in a curve on a busy road. Mr Zajic immediately notified the local police, who asked the driver of the dangerously parked car to park it somewhere else. After the police's request was ignored, Mr Zajic decided to call the state police and photograph the car, so that he could send the photo to the Interior Ministry.

To Mr Zajic's surprise, the state police said the car was not in the way of traffic. He was dealt another blow when he found out that the vehicle in question was the private car of Interior Minister Stanislav Gross. This incident has triggered much rage among teachers at Czech driving schools, who have expressed great disappointment in the interior ministry, the paper writes.