A military helicopter crashed near Brno in the southeast of the Czech Republic on Thursday, killing six British soldiers taking part in a joint military exercise with Czech troops. The accident happened around 1 pm local time close to a military airport. The LYNX helicopter was flying close to the ground at the time of the crash. It burst into flames on impact, killing everyone on board. The cause of the accident is being investigated. Eyewitnesses say the helicopter may have got caught in high voltage wires. The joint military exercise, code named Flying Rhino, has been suspended.
On a working visit to Germany, the Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda on Thursday criticized a French proposal to axe structural funds for new EU members. In talks with his German counterpart Joschka Fischer, minister Svoboda pointed out that the debate on the future EU budget would be taking place alongside a debate on the future EU constitution and that it would be impossible to keep the two issues separate. Every country in the EU cares about finances, the Czech Foreign Minister said. In view of the financial burden of the recent EU expansion, some of the economically stronger nations such as France and Germany are now considering lowering their annual contribution to EU coffers in the years between 2007 and 2013. This would have an adverse effect on the newcomer states.
An express train from Pilsen to Brno got de-railed on Thursday morning due to a wrongly positioned shunt. No one was hurt in the accident. According to Czech Railways there was a problem with technology and the shunts were being switched manually in the course of the morning. The signalman responsible for the accident has suffered a nervous break down and has had to be hospitalized. Material damage has been assessed at close to half a million Czech crowns.
A suspected Nazi war criminal has gone on trial in Germany for the massacre of 164 people in the former Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II, in one of the last cases of its kind. The 86 year old former SS commander Ladislav Niznansky stands accused of hunting down and killing resistance fighters and civilians on three separate occasions in January and February of 1945 as World War II was drawing to a close. Prosecutors say he ordered the mass murder of 146 people in two villages in what is now Slovakia. Niznansky denies the charges.
A regional court has sentenced two Ukrainian men to nine years in prison for the kidnapping of an eight year old girl. Two other gang members received seven year sentences. The gang abducted the girl when she was being driven home from school and demanded five million crowns in ransom from her wealthy father. They threatened to cut her head off and send it to her parents. When the police got on their trail the gang abandoned the child in the forest, where she was later found frightened but unhurt. A member of the gang worked for her father and carefully planned the abduction, knowing the family's daily routine.
Friday is expected to be sunny with afternoon highs between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.
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