Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

03-06-2003

State prosecutor asks for a five year sentence for former Communist dignitary

In her closing statement winding up the trial of former Communist dignitary Karel Hoffman, state prosecutor Dagmar Machova has asked the accused by given a five year sentence, lower than the expected twelve to fifteen years usually attributed to such cases. Mr Hoffman stands accused of treason, for allegedly ordering the interruption of state radio broadcasts on the night of August 20th and 21st, when Russian-led Warsaw Pact troops entered the country in order to crush the Prague Spring reforms. The state prosecutor said on Tuesday she had asked for a lighter sentence because of the extensive period of time that had passed since Mr Hoffman's alleged actions. She said she had also taken into account the fact he had not been involved in any other crimes. Throughout the trial, Mr Hoffmann, now 78, has maintained his innocence. His defence has asked that he be acquitted of all charges.

President accepts Defence Minister's resignation

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has accepted Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik's offer to resign: the two men met for an hour at Prague Castle on Tuesday to discuss the future of the Czech military, during which Mr Klaus thanked the outgoing minister for his services. Last week Mr Tvrdik tendered his resignation because he disagreed with planned government cuts to the Defence Ministry budget. He said that implementing long planned reforms in the armed forces would be impossible under such conditions. Meanwhile on Tuesday, the head of the president's office Jiri Weigl stated the president had displayed personal regret over the departure of the minister, considering him the most distinguished personality to have headed the Defence Ministry.

Deputy Kostelka a possible replacement as Defence Minister

Miroslav Kostelka, Minister Tvrdik's deputy until now, could be a possible replacement for the outgoing minister. Social Democrat MP Radim Turek told journalists on Tuesday that Mr Kostelka was likely to find support among all three parties in the country's ruling coalition. However, not even the prime minister has speculated openly about Mr Tvrdik's replacement as yet - he has said the successor to Mr Tvrdik would be known within the next few days.

Man threatens suicide, attacks medical personnel

A man threatening to commit suicide Monday night has been taken into custody by police for attacking medical personnel who came to his aid. The man, who had taken a mix of medication and alcohol behaved aggressively and pulled a knife on a doctor who arrived at his apartment. The specialist escaped unhurt. However, the 27 year-old aggressor continued to threaten, brandishing an imitation pistol at police who had been called to the scene. If found guilty in the incident the man could now face up to five years in prison. The incident echoes similar acts of violence against medical personnel in the Czech Republic in recent months, including a drunken attack on an ambulance crew at a car crash scene in April, and a deadly attack by a patient on his psychiatrist in May. As a result the medical community has called for increased safety measures. Health Minister Marie Souckova has said she will push through a bill which would give doctors on duty the status of public officials.

Vyborny named to the Constitutional Court

President Klaus has named former Christian Democrat MP Miloslav Vyborny a judge at the 15 member Constitutional Court. The 51 year-old Vyborny will fill the post left open by Zdenek Kessler, who resigned for health reasons in February.

Chinese nationals - without papers - arrested in lodging house in Karlovy Vary region

Police have arrested 13 Chinese nationals in the Karlovy Vary region. Police stumbled on the foreigners while investigating a crime at a local lodging house; none of the thirteen were found with valid papers. Police have reason to suspect they were economic migrants planning to illegally cross into Germany. All thirteen have been taken to a refugee camp while police investigate.

Weather

Wednesday is expected to be sunny with daytime temperatures ranging from 27 to 31 degrees Celsius.

03-06-2003