About 100 Palestinians and members of the Communist Youth Association gathered in Prague on Friday evening to protest against Israel's policies in the Gaza Strip and the Rafah refugee camp. The demonstrators highlighted the May invasion of Gaza by the Israeli army which claimed 44 victims. The Palestinian protesters brought along many flags and banners. They showed photos of dead Palestinians and destroyed houses. No incident was reported during the protest which was watched by some 15 police.
The Supreme Court earlier this week rejected the appeal of another former top Communist and confirmed a four year prison sentence for the former Czechoslovak head of telecommunications Karel Hoffmann. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction of sabotage during the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. A lower court had sentenced Mr Hoffmann for four years last June for ordering state radio to stop broadcasting during the violent crushing of the Prague Spring reform movement. The 79-year old Mr Hoffmann appealed on health grounds but lost. Mr Hoffmann is the first, and possibly last, top politician of former communist Czechoslovakia to be sentenced for actions connected to the Soviet-led invasion.
The eight men and two women who were arrested by a rapid deployment police unit in North Bohemia on Friday morning on suspicion of procurement have been taken into custody. The gang members have been charged with procurement, trafficking in people and criminal conspiracy for which they face up to ten years in prison if convicted. Among the suspects are Czech nationals as well as people from the former Yugoslavia and former Soviet Union. The Friday morning raid was carried out in three hotels, restaurants and flats in the Teplice district in North Bohemia.
The former Czechoslovak communist foreign minister Bohuslav Chnoupek, has died in Prague after a short illness at the age of 78. Apart from his political and diplomatic career, Mr Chnoupek also wrote many journalist reports, political publications and books. Bohuslav Chnoupek was born in 1925 in the Slovak capital Bratislava. He joined the Communist party in 1945. In 1969 to 1970 he was general director of Czechoslovak Radio where he implemented the first wave of the normalisation purges. Those followed the suppression of the Prague Spring reform movement by Warsaw Pact troops which occupied Czechoslovakia in August, 1968. In 1990, Mr Chnoupek was expelled from the Czechoslovak Communist Party and in the same year he was accused of abuse of power and spent six months in custody.
Dozens of Czech rapid response police moved in against an eight-member prostitution gang near Teplice, north Bohemia, in the early hours of Friday morning, The carefully co-ordinated round-up saw police move in at three hotels, a restaurant, and several private flats in the area. Arrested were nationals from the Czech Republic, the former Yugoslavia as well as Russia. The gang, suspected off making millions of crowns in illegal prostitution, has also been charged with the trafficking of women and criminal conspiracy. A guilty sentence for any of the gang-members would mean up to 10 years in prison.
The Czech military's General Staff has announced that as off Monday specialists from the Czech anti-chemical unit will begin training Greek soldiers in preparation for this summer's Olympic Games. The games, which kick-off in Athens in August, are expected to be the most highly-guarded in the venue's history, to help ward off potential terrorist threats; included is the need for special medical and anti-chemical training. Twenty-four from a total of forty-eight Greek specialists arrive in Czech Republic Monday, and will begin training at the Czech Military Protection Centre in Vyskov, south Moravia. Operations will include working directly with toxic materials, exercises aimed at preparing specialists for the psychological stress in potentially "high-risk" situations. Earlier this month, it was expected the Czechs themselves would take part in guarding of the Olympic Games, but Greece opted instead for training its soldiers here, a solution deemed less expensive in overall costs.
The talks between the European Commission and the Czech Republic, which resulted in Brussels' tacit approval of the use of milk from the herd in which a BSE- infected cow is found, were only preliminary and did not produce any formal agreement, the European Commission said on Thursday. It stressed that a possible change in the procedures for slaughtering of animals that might have contracted mad cow disease first has to be proposed by the European Commission College and then approved by member states. On Tuesday the Agriculture Ministry announced that Czech farmers who own an infected cow will not have to kill all animals of the same age in the herd. Instead, the cows will continue to produce milk and will be put down gradually.
The leaders of 16 eastern and central European countries met in Romania's Black Sea resort of Mamaia on Thursday at the start of a two-day summit on the impact of EU enlargement and Balkan stability. The Mamaia summit is the 11th such gathering since Germany, Austria, Hungary and the Czech Republic agreed in 1993 to launch a debate on closer ties between the European Union and former Eastern bloc countries. It comes less than a month after their initiative culminated in the May 1 accession of 10 new members to the EU, including eight former members of the Soviet bloc. The second day of the summit is expected to focus on economic and social stability as well as security in the Balkans.
Slovak police say they found two bags filled with explosives on Thursday outside the building in the capital Bratislava where a NATO meeting is to open on Friday. The two plastic bags, containing a total of almost one and a half kilos of explosives were discovered under a rubbish bin. Around 300 representatives from 39 countries are due to gather for a five-day meeting of NATO's parliamentary assembly starting on Friday. The Bratislava event comes two months after Slovakia and six other former Soviet bloc countries joined the transatlantic NATO alliance on March 29.
The London-based human rights organisation Amnesty International has criticised the Czech Republic for ill treatment of its Roma minority and cases of degrading treatment of patients in mental hospitals. According to the Amnesty International annual report, released on Wednesday, the cases of ill-treatment of Romanies are not sufficiently investigated and their perpetrators are not sufficiently punished. The report also notes that Roma are affected by high unemployment and Romany children continue to be overrepresented in schools for children with learning difficulties. Amnesty International also points out that "cage beds" are still used in psychiatric hospitals to restrain patients. The organisation considers the use of cage beds in Czech mental institutions to be cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment, violating international law and professional practice.
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