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01-08-2005

Police steps at CzechTek come under renewed fire

A decision by Czech police to break-up a techno music festival in Mlynec, west Bohemia, at the weekend has continued to draw political fire - from both the opposition and some members of the government. On Saturday around 1,000 police in riot gear forcibly broke up the techno party - attended by some 5,000 visitors - at the request of landowners who claimed visitors had damaged their property. Police clashed with dozens of partygoers, using tear gas and water cannons - leading to score of minor injuries on both sides. Around 20 people required medical attention.

Although the Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan defended police steps as "necessary", others, including the country's president, Vaclav Klaus, have criticised the move, with the president saying that the use tear gas and water cannons was "inexcusable". Mr Klaus called the move a "gross blunder" and has already said he will call on the country's prime minister for an explanation.

Others, including opposition MP for the right-of-centre Civic Democrats, Ivan Langer, called Saturday's use of force "unprecedented" - in his view evocative of police brutality in former Czechoslovakia preceding the fall of Communism in 1989.

Civic Democrats to call meeting of Defense committee

The opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats say they will try and call a special meeting of Parliament's Defense Committee to look into steps taken by police at CzechTek - and will look for a chance to question Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan and the Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek in Parliament. There have already been repeated calls from some Civic Democrats for the interior minister to resign, calls he has rejected. On Monday Mr Bublan said if anyone was to blame it was the organisers of the event themselves, who, in his view, had refused to communicate with police.

Deputy to the police president Vladislav Husak, meanwhile admitted that riot police at CzechTek were caught off guard by what he described as the "brutality of the crowds".

Justice Minister to ask for detailed report on police approach at CzechTek

In related news, the Justice Minister Pavel Nemec, too, has asked Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan for a detailed report on police operations at CzechTek - saying that the media had raised some doubt on steps taken by police. Mr Nemec also said that the State Attorney's Office had not given instructions to the police on how to proceed - contrary to statements made by the prime minister and Mr Bublan at the weekend.

Protestors rally in front of Interior Ministry

After protesting in the thousands in front of the Interior Ministry on Sunday, dozens of protestors met again in front of the ministry on Monday afternoon, carrying placards criticising police action at CzechTek. Protestors are continuing blame the prime minister and the interior minister for what they see as unjustified police intervention at the weekend. An additional demonstration has been planned for Wednesday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman: Priplata will not face extradition

A spokesman for the Czech Foreign Ministry has said that Frantisek Priplata, sentenced to eight years in prison in Romania for incitement to murder, will not face extradition. The Czech businessman escaped from Romania and returned to the Czech Republic on Friday. The ministry spokesman stressed that Mr Priplata was in the Czech Republic legally and said that extradition was out of the question.

An official from Romania's Foreign Ministry has also commented Mr Priplata's case, saying on Monday that Romania would put out an international arrest warrant and seek extradition.

Frantisek Priplata himself has complained that, regarding his legal case, Romania respected neither the law, nor human rights.

Four Czechs die in auto accident in Spain

Four Czechs - two men and two women - have died while journeying in Spain, killed when their car collided with a truck. The accident took place near the towns of Avila and Salamanka. Exact causes remain unknown. These fatalities follow 30 deaths in road accidents in Spain at the weekend.

Swimmer breaks Czech record for swimming across La Manche

Czech swimmer Yvetta Hlavacova has become just the 11th Czech to swim across the English Channel. Her attempt to break the all-time record fell short, but she posted the best time ever for a Czech: eight hours and 42 minutes.

Weather

Tuesday is expected to be sunny with daytime temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius.

01-08-2005