A Czech court has sentenced militant skinhead Frantisek Sobek to 7 years in prison: the twenty-three year old was found guilty of an attack on three civilians, including a pregnant woman, which took place three years ago. The attack came during celebrations of the Czech ice hockey victory at the World Championships in 1999. Sobek, who is a prominent figure in the neo-Nazi movement, has had a history of past offences. In 1998 he was charged with an attack on Indian nationals on a Prague subway line, as well as with another attack on Roma citizens. The skinhead's lawyer has appealed Thursday's ruling.
Chief state prosecutor Marie Benesova has said that the high level of corruption in government would justify the use of controlled provocation techniques to help root-out crooked civil servants. The problem of corruption in government echelons has been a growing concern in recent weeks, fueled by comments by the Euro-Czech chamber of commerce and allegations by Prague Mayor Jan Kasl. Now Chief State Prosecutor Marie Benesova has indicated that corruption is becoming such a problem that it may be necessary to act "point-blank". But, say some law experts, the suggestion that police use entrapment and provocation methods is highly problematic, raising a possibility of multiple legal objections. Such techniques are illegal under current legislation.
The Czech parliament, rather than individual party headquarters, will most likely be the setting for a debate on the post-war Benes Decrees, in connection with the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union. Opposition Civic Democrat leader Vaclav Klaus, and leader of the Social Democrats Prime Minister Milos Zeman, have put forward a recommendation that parliament issue a statement on the controversial decrees, which sanctioned the expulsion of two-and-a-half million ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II. But other opposition parties, such as the Christian Democrats and the Freedom Union, are favouring individual party statements on the issue - and it remains unclear just which method will prevail. The Benes Decrees have been a growing area of political contention for the Czech Republic and neighbouring Germany and Austria in recent months, with many German and Austrian politicians calling for some kind of political resolution before the Czech Republic joins the EU in 2004.
A car mechanic in the western Bohemian region of Cheb has been seriously injured, after a car he was working on exploded Thursday. The man was taken to a hospital in Pilsen by emergency helicopter, after suffering serious eye injuries. Pyrotechnics experts are now investigating the cause of the explosion, and have not ruled out the possibility of foul play.
Finally a look at the weather for the rest of Thursday and tomorrow: Thursday evening will be partially cloudy with a chance of fog in places, and night-time temperatures will fall to lows between -1 and -5 degrees Celsius. Friday is expected to be partially overcast with chances of clearing. Temperatures during the day are expected to rise to 14 degrees Celsius.
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Screenshot: a hybrid English-friendly Prague art-house cinema where screenings are events