Daily news summary News

31-07-2005

Interior Minister defends police intervention at Czechtek

Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan has defended police intervention that on Saturday brought to an end an illegal music festival known as Czechtek. Police - numbering more than a thousand and in full riot gear - resorted to using tear gas and water cannons against hundreds of partygoers on a meadow near the village of Mlynec na Tachovsku, west Bohemia. Many refused to leave the grounds and began throwing bottles. According to reports dozens suffered mostly minor injuries, with around twenty partygoers and five officers suffering more serious wounds requiring medical attention.

Despite the clash, the interior minister called the police intervention "necessary", though he said he regretted there had been injuries. Mr Bublan pointed out that officers decided to act following an assessment by a public prosecutor and an authorised expert at the scene, who backed earlier complaints by neighbouring landowners that visitors had damaged private property and broken the law. Police gave a half-hour advance warning before resorting to force to push attendees off the grounds. On the whole some 5,000 visitors attended the Czechtek festival before it was rolled up Saturday.

Police action comes under fire

Steps taken by police at Czechtek on Saturday have drawn criticism from at least one member of the opposition, right-of-centre Civic Democrat MP - and shadow Interior Minister - Ivan Langer. On Saturday Mr Langer accused police of bowing to political pressure from the Prime Minister's office, saying police had not learned from similar events in the past. But, the head of the Tachov region police, Jaromir Knize rejected the charge.

Meanwhile, on Sunday hundreds of young people gathered in front of the Interior Ministry in Prague to protest the police crackdown.

Possible hit-and-run near Czechtek

One partygoer was killed trying to reach festival grounds on Saturday after being struck by a motor vehicle - possibly a large truck. Police are trying to determine whether it was a clear hit-and-run, with the driver knowingly leaving the crime scene.

Czechs take over KFOR command in Kosovo

The Czech Republic has officially accepted the military command of the KFOR mission in Kosovo for one year, beginning Sunday. Along with monitoring on the border with Serbia, Czech soldiers in the KFOR mission will now supervise the work of 1,500 counterparts from five other European countries. Defence Minister Karel Kuehnl praised European partners' confidence in the Czechs, who take over from the Finnish army. The Czech Republic is the first of the newer wave of NATO countries to be entrusted with command over other contingents. At present, the Czech Republic has about 500 soldiers in the Kosovo region.

Tabloid: Czech businessman escapes Romania to avoid prison

The Czech tabloid Blesk has reported that a Czech businessman, Frantisek Priplata, sentenced to eight years in prison for incitement to murder in Romania, has escaped to the Czech Republic to avoid his sentence. According to the daily, Mr Priplata was to begin serving his jail time but escaped and was seen in the Czech Republic at a social event. The Justice Ministry has responded by saying it expects Romanian authorities will issue an international arrest warrant, leading to likely extradition proceedings. A regional court could rule on the decision with the justice minister issuing a final word on the case.

Weather

Monday should see sunshine throughout the day with daytime temperatures of around 25 degrees Celsius.

31-07-2005