Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

27-07-2003

Papez withdraws bid to head Justice Ministry

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has revealed that South Bohemian lawyer Vladimir Papez has withdrawn his bid to become the country's next justice minister. Speaking on a TV news talk show on Sunday the prime minister said he had received a letter from Mr Papez in which the lawyer had stated his decision. In the letter he wrote that his nomination would complicate the situation for the current government. Recently Mr Papez had been criticised for a several month old incident involving drunk driving. In addition, over the weekend, the tabloid Blesk published an article claiming the lawyer had visited brothels in South Bohemia on several occasions, something the tabloid says Mr Papez was able to confirm or deny. In the letter to Mr Spidla Papez apparently also expressed doubts he would be able to push through necessary justice reforms. In his reaction Prime Minister Spidla said he accepted the lawyer's decision, adding he would temporarily head the Justice Ministry himself until a new candidate could be found.

Topolanek: the Civic Democrats may test government in autumn with confidence vote

Speaking on the same TV news programme as Mr Spidla on Sunday Mirek Topolanek, the head of the country's largest opposition party, the liberal-conservative Civic Democrats, said his party was likely to call for a confidence vote on the government come autumn. This in connection with a third reading on the coalition government's proposed public finance reforms set to take place in parliament at that time. The government is expected to face difficulties in passing its reforms, especially after one of its MPs, Josef Hojdar, left the senior Social Democrat's parliamentary caucus in protest earlier this week. The coalition government enjoys only the slimmest of majorities in the Lower House - a majority of just one vote. In order to initiate a confidence vote the Civic Democrats will have to put forward a proposal signed by a minimum of 50 MPs.

Vaclav Klaus released from hospital

President Vaclav Klaus has been released from hospital after being admitted earlier in the week. Mr Klaus, who turned 62 last month, had been suffering from tonsillitis as well as pain in his joints. Mr Klaus' spokesman said on Sunday that the president felt well but that there would be slight changes to his programme next week. Mr Klaus, an avid sport fan often seen on the tennis courts and ski slopes, is generally considered to be in good health.

Police and customs officials seize three truckloads of smuggled cigarettes and imitation goods

In a raid on a market in the Chomutov region near the Czech - German border that began on Saturday and continued Sunday, police and customs officials seized three truckloads of smuggled cigarettes and imitation goods. However, police said they had been unable to uncover a hidden workplace where the fake goods had been made. 124 officers took part in the raid. On Saturday they said that some 80 percent of the items on sale at the market had been contraband copies of audio CDs, video cassettes, and brand-name clothes.

33-year-old woman hospitalised at undisclosed psychiatric hospital after spending two years in forced isolation

A 33-year-old woman has been hospitalised at an undisclosed psychiatric hospital after spending two years in forced isolation in an apartment in Cheb, west Bohemia. Her detainment was discovered by chance by police on Friday. The young woman had been kept in a room in the apartment in extreme and unsanitary conditions by the apartment owner, a 54-year-old woman who will be remanded in custody on charges of manufacturing illegal drugs. Police found half a kilogram of methamphetamine in the apartment. It is believed that the younger woman in the apartment had been forced into prostitution. A full investigation is under way.

Car/train collision leaves two dead, two seriously injured

Two people were killed, two seriously injured on Sunday afternoon when the car they were traveling was struck at a rail crossing by an approaching train in the south-east Moravian town of Zlin. A witness to the accident said the driver of the car had taken the vehicle straight through a red light, going right in front of the train. It appeared the driver was either engaged in a conversation on a cell phone or had been arguing with others in the vehicle. The train's driver could do nothing to prevent the impact in time, with the train stopping 120 metres further down the track after hitting the car. Police are investigating.

Countdown for the Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones are getting ready to play Prague's Letna Plain on Sunday, with 65, 000 fans expected to turn-out. The Prague venue is being touted as the legendary band's largest European stop on their current tour. Areas around Letna Plain have been closed off, including a major city artery and Prague's Letna tunnel. The concert is expected to last some two-and-a-half hours.

Weather

Monday is expected to be mostly rainy with daytime temperatures of 26 degrees Celsius.

27-07-2003