Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

19-10-2003

Dalai Lama launches three-day Tibet conference in Prague

The Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, has launched a three-day international conference on Tibet, taking place at a hotel in Prague. Representatives of pro-Tibetan democracy groups from across the world are attending the conference, which is being sponsored by a German foundation. It's the first time the gathering has been held in Prague. The Chinese embassy has issued a statement strongly criticising the conference and the decision to invite the Dalai Lama. Earlier on Sunday the Dalai Lama held private talks with former President Vaclav Havel. He is not expected to meet the current president, Vaclav Klaus.

Social Democrats: Klaus speaking like opposition leader, not impartial president

The senior coalition Social Democrats have criticised a speech made by President Klaus in which he attacked government policy. The party said Mr Klaus - honorary chairman of the opposition Civic Democrats - had apparently forgotten that the president was supposed to be impartial. In Thursday's speech to MPs in the lower house President Klaus criticised the record budget deficit proposed for 2004, and also raised objections to the government's package of finance reforms, which must be signed by the president before they become law. He has denied claims that his words were an attack on the ruling coalition, saying he had merely identified several serious problems facing the country.

Hundreds queue outside Brno bookshop for Albright autograph

Hundreds of people waited for hours outside a bookshop in Brno on Saturday to attend a book signing by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Ms Albright, born Marie Korbelova in Prague, is in the Czech Republic to launch the Czech translation of her memoirs, entitled "Madam Secretary." Ms Albright, who speaks fluent Czech, will meet a number of senior officials during her visit including former president Vaclav Havel, who is a close personal friend. Her visit ends on Tuesday.

Railway tracks damaged by explosives

Police in Prague have taken away sections of railway track for investigation after they were damaged by explosives. A police spokeswoman said the explosives were placed on the track and detonated some time on Sunday morning. No-one was injured in the explosion. The railway line between Prague and Beroun was closed for several hours to allow the tracks to be inspected. Anonymous blackmailers have threatened to destroy railway tracks on a number of occasions in the last few months.

New case of BSE reported in herd near Prachatice

Another suspected case of BSE or mad cow disease has been reported in a herd near Prachatice, South Bohemia. If confirmed, it would be the Czech Republic's sixth case of the disease since 2001. The State Veterinary Authority said further tests were being carried out and the final result would be known by Wednesday, although the Authority said it was almost 100 percent certain that the animal was infected. Almost half a million cattle have been tested for BSE since the first case was confirmed two years ago.

Two Czechs sentenced for drug smuggling in Antilles

Two Czechs were among 13 people sentenced to prison in the Antilles on Thursday for drugs smuggling. The two Czech citizens were sentenced to 30 months in prison by a court on the island of Sint Maarten, after being found guilty of attempting to smuggle 10 kilos of cocaine out of the country. The two had visited the Antilles - which are part of the Netherlands - as tourists. The remaining 11 people sentenced were Slovaks.

Father and son die in light aircraft crash near Kladno

Two people died on Saturday when their light aircraft crashed near the town of Kladno, to the west of Prague. The aircraft, a Czech-made Zlin Z-142, crashed shortly after takeoff on Saturday afternoon. According to police the two were a 48-year-old father and his eighteen-year-old son, whom he was training. It is not clear who was piloting the plane when it crashed.

Weather

Monday will be mostly cloudy with rain in places. Daytime temperatures will range from 7 to 11 degrees Celsius. Temperatures at night will fall to lows of -2 degrees.

19-10-2003