Daily news summary News

09-08-2004

Hoffmann, 80, begins four-year term for 1968 collaboration

Former Communist Party functionary Karel Hoffmann has begun serving a four-year sentence at Prague's Pankrac prison, after being found guilty of disrupting Czech Radio broadcasts during the Soviet-led invasion of August 1968. On Sunday, President Vaclav Klaus said he was considering granting a pardon to Mr Hoffmann, who is 80 years old and in poor health. Mr Klaus said it would be strange to send someone to prison 36 years after they had broken the law on telecommunications. Karel Hoffmann remains the only senior communist to have been sentenced in connection with the events of 1968.

Czech Republic to seek extradition of controversial businessman Viktor Kozeny

The Czech Republic is preparing to seek the extradition of former Czech businessman Viktor Kozeny, from his home in the Bahamas. Until now, extradition had not been an option since the Czech Republic and the Bahamas do not enjoy diplomatic ties. However, on Monday the director for international affairs of the Supreme State Attorney's Office, Svetlana Klouckova, revealed that the office had uncovered a treaty between the Bahamas and former Czechoslovakia dating back to 1925. The 79-year-old treaty allegedly outlines strict terms for the extradition of criminals. Should Mr Kozeny, who now has Irish citizenship, be released to Czech authorities on the basis of the treaty, he will be tried in the Czech Republic for large-scale fraud. An international warrant for his arrest was first issued in February this year.

Body of third Czech climber recovered in Kyrgyzstan

Rescuers have recovered the body of a third Czech mountaineer lost in an avalanche last Thursday on a mountain in Kyrgyzstan. Two more Czech climbers remain missing and are assumed dead; the search for their bodies was complicated on Monday by severe weather conditions. The climbers, part of a fourteen member team also including Russians and Ukrainians were struck by the avalanche at 5, 000 metres on Kyrgyzstan's 7000-metre high Mount Khan-Tengri.

Unemployment level rises in July

The Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs has reported that the Czech unemployment level in July rose from 9.9 to 10.1 percent, meaning that some 532, 000 people at the end of the month were officially without work. But, say some Czech economists the labour market is slowly but surely improving - as higher unemployment numbers for July were originally expected. Meanwhile, new tabulation methods used by the majority of EU states, now being adopted by the Ministry for Labour and Social Affairs, ranks Czech unemployment lower at 9.2 percent.

Czech Radio: chairman of commission monitoring Czech intelligence likely to have not passed security vetting

According to Czech Radio's Radiozurnal service Jan Klas - the chairman of the Chamber of Deputies' committee monitoring the Czech intelligence service (BIS) - has failed to pass new security vetting allowing him to access top secret information. Czech Radio reported on Monday that Mr Klas had already received the announcement on the decision by the National Security Office. However, Mr Klas has denied his failure to pass and told the station that the matter had not yet been decided and that a final decision would be made public within a number of days.

Results of audit on the drawing of EU funds to be available in October

Finance Ministry spokesman Marek Zeman has said that the results of an audit of the Czech Republic's readiness to draw money from EU funds will be available in October. On the basis of the results the Finance Ministry will then check each programme separately and decide whether the application for the funds can be sent. Some sources said last week that the Czech Republic was threatened with the suspension of payments from EU funds, if the results of the audit were as bad as interim results had suggested.

On August 4th the European Commission suspended the payment of some 2 billion crowns to the Czech Republic from the pre-accession Phare fund.

Spokeswoman for the EC representation in the Czech Republic Katharina von Schnurbein said the Czech Republic failed to supply all required information.

If the results of the audit prove poor, Brussels could react by suspending advance and further payments, some sources have told the country's news agency CTK. However, the Finance Ministry has denied this.

Nedved still not recovered from injury

Star Czech football midfielder Pavel Nedved has not yet recovered from a knee injury he suffered in the semi-final of the Euro 2004 championship in July. Mr Nedved, who plays for Italy's Juventus Turin, will therefore be unable to help his side in an upcoming qualification game for the Champions League. Meanwhile, Czech striker, Milan Baros, is not likely to start in his side's bid against Austria's AK Graz in a qualification game for the Champions League on Tuesday. Baros, who plays for Liverpool, scored the most goals at Euro 2004, but is reportedly being overshadowed by newly-acquired striker Djibril Cisse.

Mountain biker Prokop wins gold in World Cup 4-cross event at Rokytnice nad Jizerou

This year's World Cup winner in mountain biking's 4-cross event, Michal Prokop, has clinched a gold finish the north Bohemian town of Rokytnice nad Jizerou. Prokop, where he beat riders Lukas Tamm and Michal Pribyl in the local event. In all a record 39 riders took part in the Rokytnice race.

Weather

Tuesday is expected to be sunny throughout the day and hot: 29 degrees Celsius.

09-08-2004