Police say they have arrested a Slovak national on Saturday morning who is believed to be a powerful boss of the Slovak underworld. After having served part of an eight and a half year prison sentence in Slovakia, Mikulas Cernak was released on probation in November. The 36-year old former owner of a private security agency was found guilty of having blackmailed and demanded "protection fees" from entrepreneurs in central Slovakia. Czech police say they have arrested Mr Cernak after finding evidence linking him to Russian-speaking organised crime groups in the Czech Republic. The arrest was confirmed by Slovak Interior Minister Vladimir Palko, who hopes to have Mr Cernak extradited back to Slovakia soon, to face legal proceedings.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla said on Saturday that he hoped to meet with Interior Minister Stanislav Gross and the head of the state prosecution service Marie Benesova within the next two weeks to discuss the re-organisation of part of the police force. Speaking on a Czech TV programme, Mr Spidla reacted to Mrs Benesova's recent criticism in the media of the current state of the Czech police. In mid-March, a new corruption and financial crime unit was created through the merging of two elite police units. However, the new office, which is to deal with serious cases of economic crime, corruption, money laundering and military offences, has suffered much criticism since its creation. According to Mrs Benesova, disorganisation and confusion has resulted in a significant number of experienced investigators leaving the Czech police.
The Czech Defence Ministry is to forward a proposal to the government on Monday, to offer Turkey protective gear and devices worth three million Czech crowns. With the US and British led war on Iraq, Turkey's security has been under threat as the NATO partner shares its borders with the middle eastern state. According to Andrej Cirtka from the Czech defence ministry's press department, the protective material, including numerous smaller anti-chemical packages and protective coats, is to help the citizens of Turkey defend themselves, should Saddam Hussein's regime decide to use weapons of mass destruction. The Czech gesture is to be part of current NATO security measures.
Tens of anarchists and numerous young citizens of Caslav gathered at one of the Bohemian town's squares on Saturday to protest against the war in Iraq. Carrying banners with slogans such as "No War for Oil" and "No to War for Profit", the protesters marched to the town hall where they gave a brief speech that criticised the United States and its military action. The demonstration was monitored by the police. Before it began, the peace protesters clashed with a group of skinheads but no incident was reported.
Sunday is expected to have overcast skies and occasional snow or thunderstorms in places. Temperatures are forecast between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.
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