The Czech counter-intelligence service has confirmed that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein planned a terrorist attack on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty at a time when the broadcaster was located in the centre of Prague, at the former Federal Assembly building near the top of Wenceslas Square. The news website tn.cz, which broke the story on Sunday, said the roots of the plan dated back to 1999: Mr Hussein allegedly wanted the attack carried out to silence broadcasts to Iraq by the US-funded RFE. The attack, BIS has confirmed, was to have been conducted by terrorists making use of an RPG 7 anti-tank weapon fired from a nearby building. The counter-intelligence service thwarted the move through an agent within the Iraqi embassy. Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown in 2003 after Iraq was invaded by US-led troops. In April of the same year weapons - that had been smuggled into the Iraqi embassy in Prague for use in the planned attack - were handed over to the Czech authorities.
President Václav Klaus has appointed three new ministers to the caretaker government. The appointments mark the first change to the government’s composition since it took office in the early summer. Juraj Chmiel, the Czech Republic’s former ambassador to Australia, has become Minister of European Affairs, a vacancy created by the nomination of the former minister to the post of European commissioner. Deputy environment minister Jan Dusík has taken the head seat in that ministry as outgoing minister Ladislav Miko returns to the EU’s environmental protection directorate. The third change involves the creation of a new cabinet post, that of the chairman of the government’s legislative council. That position will now be held by Social Democrat nominee Pavel Zářecký.
In its last meeting in its original composition on Monday the government dealt with a number of key proposals, not least of which was a constitutional amendment put forward by the Green Party to curtail the powers of the president in signing international treaties. The government rejected the proposal to give the Czech president thirty days to sign treaties ratified by Parliament. Outgoing environmental minister Ladislav Miko submitted a number of key measures to the government’s session just hours before leaving office. These involve the state programme for environmental protection, a new law on refuse and a strategy for adapting to climate change.
The District Court in the South Bohemian town of České Budějovice has confirmed a three-year prison sentence for the singer of a neo-Nazi music band for hate speech and promotion of fascism. The 29-year-old man was one of those arrested in a series of police raids on the organisers of neo-Nazi concerts and faced up to eight years incarceration. He was convicted for having produced CDs with lyrics praising National Socialism and calling for a “white revolution”.
The H1N1 swine flu virus claimed two lives over the last three days, bringing the number of deaths in the Czech Republic in which the illness was a factor to ten. A hospital in the eastern town of Opava announced Monday that a 21-year-old girl had died at the weekend after a chronic illness from which she suffered was compounded by swine flu. In the town of Jičín, to the north-east of Prague, a 30-year-old man died on Monday of heart failure due to complications from pneumonia and the H1N1 virus.
A survey published Monday the polling agency CVVM suggests that a vast majority of Czechs have welcomed the cancellation of plans for a US radar in the country. According to the poll, 80% of people are pleased that the radar base will not be built, while 12% are disappointed by the decision. 52% of respondents felt that the cancellation would have a positive influence on the country’s security. The radar base was conceived by the Bush administration as part of a missile defence system that was to work in concert with interceptor missiles in Poland. The plan was widely unpopular among Czechs throughout the three years it was being discussed. Another poll released by the same agency Monday indicated that the perception of US foreign policy in the Czech Republic has improved significantly since last year, from 18% to 27%.
Three people were injured at the Christmas market on Prague’s Náměstí Míru on Monday in a fire that burnt down four of the sales stands. None of the injuries were critical. The fire was apparently caused by a gas leak in a pastry stand. The four stands were entirely consumed within eight minutes; two gas cylinders inside them were unscathed, however. Christmas markets officially opened around Prague last Saturday.
A prisoner is suing the state for 300,000 crowns in damages because DNA samples were taken from him against his will. In 2007, DNA samples were taken from more than 16,000 prisoners convicted of wilful criminal acts in order to build expand the National DNA Database, used by crime investigators. Similar cases calling the state’s practice into question have been partially vindicated in the past. The Ministry of the Interior however maintains that the practice is in accordance with the law. The prisoner in question is a former disco owner sentenced to 16 years for the murder of a friend in 2000.
Industrial production in the Czech Republic declined in October by 7.3% compared to the same month last year. The Czech Statistical Office released the data, which also shows an 11.3 decrease year-on-year in the value of new orders and sales from production activities in current prices. The drop is however a slight improvement on the year-on-year for the previous month of September.
Conditions around the Czech Republic are expected to be cloudy over the coming days with showers on Tuesday and highs of around 10° Celsius.