Former communist hardliner Karel Hoffman was sentenced to six years in prison by the High Court in Prague on Monday. During the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia on August 21, 1968, Mr Hoffman, who was head of telecommunications at the time, ordered radio broadcasting to shut down, thereby helping to crush the "Prague Spring" reform movement. A lower court in Prague had already found him guilty of abuse of office and sentenced him to four years in prison in June. The verdict was appealed by the defendant and state attorney. The High Court has now raised the original four-year sentence to six years, finding him guilty of sabotage.
The European Refugee Fund (ERF) has decided to partially finance selected projects and policies relevant to refugees, displaced persons or asylum seekers in the Czech Republic. A Czech Interior Ministry official said on Monday that the ERF, which is EU funded and therefore only focuses on EU member states, has offered to allocate up to 807,000 Euros to organisations in the Czech Republic. The money, however, can only be used to support projects that are launched after May next year, when the Czech Republic is expected to become a fully fledged member of the European Union. Government offices, NGOs, and international institutions, planning projects for 2004 that benefit refugees and asylum seekers in areas such as health care, accommodation, and social and legal services, have until October 16th to forward their proposals to the Czech Interior Ministry.
Austrian border police announced on Monday they had detained some 270 refugees who had entered Austria illegally. The refugees were detained in various parts of the area along the border with the Czech Republic and Slovakia over the weekend. On Saturday night, as many as 176 refugees attempted to cross the border into Lower Austria. "All of them are of Russian nationality and have asked for asylum. They have been taken to a refugee camp in Traiskirchen," a police representative said, describing it as an invasion by Russian refugees. Another group of Russian nationals was detained in the area on Sunday.
During its session on Monday, the Czech cabinet approved a proposal to transfer Army property worth two billion Czech crowns to various municipalities. The proposal, put forward by Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka, is to compensate municipalities affected by the Army's transformation process, during which numerous several military garrisons are to be shut down. The sites that are to be transferred to the local authorities are an airfield in the East Bohemian town of Hradec Kralove and four military barracks in Bohemia and southern Moravia.
Tuesday is expected to have partially clear skies and scattered showers in the north-eastern part of the country. Temperatures will reach a maximum of eleven degrees Celsius.
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