Those were the headlines, now for the news in more detail.
The right-wing opposition Civic Democratic Party is facing fresh allegations of fraud and corruption, after a leading Internet magazine accused the former ruling party of covering up seven million crowns in gifts in the run-up to the 1996 general elections. The Internet magazine I-Dnes run by the country´s largest national newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes says it has invoices proving that two firms in Brno paid for over four thousand election billboards and tens of thousands of campaign brochures. I-Dnes says one of the firm´s directors has admitted his company sponsored the Civic Democrats´ campaign in return for a lucrative tender from the Transport Ministry. The tender was later awarded to the firm. The man responsible for the party´s finances at the time Libor Novak has refused to comment on the affair, claiming he is unable to remember anything. The centre- right coalition led by Civic Democratic Party chairman Vaclav Klaus collapsed in November 1997 after he refused to accept responsibility for a similar funding scandal in his party.
The operation to repatriate ethnic Albanian refugees to the Serb province of Kosovo has begun. 100 refugees arrived at Ostrava´s Mosnov airport this morning, bound for the Macedonian capital Skopje. There, buses organised by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees will be waiting to take them to Kosovo. The refugees will be taking with them one thousand German marks each a special gift from the Czech government. Those refugees with serious medical problems will be given three months´ worth of medical supplies. There are currently some 1,100 Kosovo Albanian refugees in the Czech Republic. Almost all of them say they urgently want to return home, and the Foreign Ministry says most of them will be repatriated by mid-September.
Meanwhile, a group of ten Czech police officers are themselves making the final preparations for Kosovo, where they are to serve as part of the new international police force. An Interior Ministry spokesman said that the ten officers chosen for the mission would soon be entering the final stage of the selection process - English tests. These will confirm their ability to communicate with the local population as well as fellow policemen and K-FOR troops. The spokesman said the policemen, who must all have at least five years´ experience, good English and a full driving license, would be leaving for the province by the autumn at the latest.
The opposition Christian Democrats have proposed the establishment of a tribunal to establish the moral responsibility for crimes committed during the forty years of Communist rule. The party says the tribunal´s findings would carry no legal weight. The Christian Democrats claim existing mechanisms for investigating the Communist crimes are insufficient because they become bogged down in lengthy legal argument. The government says a tribunal is unrealistic.
Fire broke out on the roof of the Czech Embassy in New York on Thursday morning. Firemen managed to put out the fire in less than an hour, and there was no serious damage. Ambassador Alexandr Vondra praised the New York Fire Department for its speedy response, and said the cause of the fire was now being investigated. He said repair work was currently being carried out on the roof by a Czech firm.
Finally a quick look at today´s weather. And we´re expecting another rather cool day here in the Czech Republic, mostly clear with some patches of cloud and scattered showers in places. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach a maximum of 22 degrees Celsius, falling to a low of 8 degrees tonight.
And that's the end of the news.
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