Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

18-08-2003

Couple confess in biggest serial murder case in Czech criminal history

Police say a married couple from the town of Kutna Hora have confessed to murdering eight people, in what appears to be the worst case of serial murder in Czech criminal history. Thirty-seven-year-old Jaroslav Stodola and his 34-year-old wife Dana have confessed to murdering and robbing eight elderly people, mostly women. The murders were committed over a period of several years. In some cases the couple made the deaths appear as an accident or suicide. The couple were caught after their ninth intended victim survived. They face the possibility of life imprisonment if found guilty.

Thai authorities to decide on release of Czech heroin smugglers

The authorities in Thailand are to decide this week whether to release two Czech men serving long prison sentences for smuggling heroin. The two would serve the rest of their sentences in a Czech prison. Emil Novotny, who is 27, was sentenced to 42 years in prison, and has so far served eight years. Radek Hanykovisc was sentenced to 25 years. Under the terms of a newly-signed Czech-Thai treaty on prison exchanges, Mr Novotny would spend another 34 years behind bars, leaving prison in his early sixties. The maximum sentence for drug offences under Czech law is fifteen years.

Ill-fated climbing team returns from tragic expedition to Russian volcano

Members of an ill-fated Czech climbing expedition have returned from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, two weeks after one of their colleagues died while scaling a volcano. The body of the 44-year-old man, who died of head injuries after being hit by a falling rock, has been recovered and will be returned to the Czech Republic in several days. The remaining 19 members of the expedition were rescued after spending three days stranded on Russia's Klyuchevskoi volcano.

Autopsy: Castle Guard soldier took his own life

An autopsy has confirmed that a 23-year-old member of the president's elite Castle Guard unit, who was found with multiple gunshot wounds on Saturday, committed suicide. Police say the man killed himself by shooting himself in the head with a sub-machine gun. The suicide was the latest in a series of unfortunate incidents for the Castle Guard. An army psychologist attached to the unit was dismissed after he was found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting soldiers. Recently it was revealed that Castle Guard members had posed in their uniforms for a gay pornographic website. President Vaclav Klaus has called for urgent transformation of the unit, to restore the Castle Guard's reputation as quickly as possible.

Prime real estate on Wenceslas Square up for grabs again

A large area of prime real estate in the heart of Prague is up for grabs again, after the collapse of plans by the developer which successfully bid for the properties in April. A total of 16 buildings on Prague's Wenceslas Square will go up for auction next month, after the initial winner - Italian investor Alessandro Grosso - defaulted on a payment. Mr Grosso's company Bricks Invest submitted the winning bid of 605 million crowns (22 million dollars) in April. But a plan to create a hotel, restaurant and office complex fell through after he failed to raise the necessary funds. The auctioneers say there are at least four serious bidders interested in the properties.

Firemen still fighting forest blaze in South Bohemia

Fire services in the Ceske Budejovice area say around five hectares of forest are still burning, five days after a fire started in woods near the village of Hranice. Fire-fighters from across the region have gathered to help put out the blaze. Firemen said cooler weather forecast to arrive in South Bohemia on Monday should help them extinguish the fire.

Weather

Weathermen are warning of violent thunderstorms arriving with an easterly front on Monday evening. The storms could be accompanied by hailstones. Tuesday will be another mostly cloudy day, with showers in places. Daytime temperatures will rise to 27 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of 12 degrees.

18-08-2003