Prague City Court ruled on Wednesday morning that a suspected Swedish terrorist arrested in Prague airport a year and a half ago can be extradited to the United States to face trial. Oussama Kassir - a Swede of Lebanese origin - has been in Czech custody ever since he was apprehended on the basis of an international arrest warrant by police during a flight stopover at Ruzyne Airport in December 2005. He is wanted by the United States for conspiring to build a Jihad training camp at a farm in Oregon and could face life imprisonment if found guilty. Kassir denies the charges and his Czech lawyer's say they will appeal against Prague City Court's decision to extradite him to the US.
A special team at the Supreme State Attorney's Office has cast doubt on the so called Kubice report which claimed that organized crime had infiltrated the Czech civil service. The head of the Office for Investigation of Organized Crime Jan Kubice told a parliamentary committee last June that the outgoing Social Democrat prime minister Jiri Paroubek and other top officials had hindered his unit's work in order to shield party colleagues and that criminals had infiltrated the civil service. A special team set up at the Supreme State Attorney's Office to investigate the claims has concluded that these claims were unfrounded. Its spokeswoman Irena Valova said on Tuesday that in none of the cases mentioned was the supervising state attorney contacted by anyone with the intention of influencing the criminal proceedings, nor had there been any attempt to influence the work of the police.
Radio Free Europe has called for the immediate release of its Prague-based reporter Parnaz Azima, who is being prevented by the Iranian authorities' from leaving Tehrán. In a statement released on the station's website, Radio Free Europe's president Jeffrey Gedmin said Ms Azima was being held in Iran against her will after returning home to visit her sick mother. The US-funded Radio Free Europe now also known as Radio Liberty moved to Prague from Munich in 1995 and broadcasts to countries where America is interested in promoting democratic values, including Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan.
Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Vondra represented the Czech Republic at the former Russian president Boris Yeltsin's funeral in Moscow on Wednesday. Mr Vondra arrived late for the event after technical problems with his government jet. Earlier, Czech president Vaclav Klaus sent a letter of condolence to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in which he said that Boris Yeltsin would remain one of the symbols of the fall of communism in the former Soviet Union. Mr Klaus is expected in Moscow later this week for an official visit which is reported to be going ahead as planned.
The head of the Hyundai Motor company, Chung Mong-Koo was in the Czech Republic on Wednesday to launch the construction of the South Korean car giant's first European production plant in Nosovice, Moravia. The company is investing more than a billion dollars in the factory, the biggest ever single investment in this country. The plant is due to open in 2009 and should produce 300,000 cars a year when it achieves its full production capacity in 2011. Around 3000 people are expected to be employed at the plant.
A court in Dublin decided on Wednesday that two suspected members of the so-called "Berdych Gang" can be extradited to the Czech Republic. Tomas Puta and Maros Sulej are alleged members of a gang - named after their leader David Berdych - accused by the Czech authorities of a number of crimes, including murder, kidnapping and robbery. The two men fled the Czech Republic separately in 2002 and 2003, but were arrested together in Ireland in August of last year. They have fifteen days to appeal the Irish court's decision.
In related news, Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek, who claimed from the start that Kubice report had been fabricated in last year's general elections has called for the resignation of Interior Minister Ivan Langer, who is believed by many to have been responsible for leaking news of the confidential report to the press. The Social Democrats have also called for a public apology from Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek over the matter. The prime minister says he'll study the findings of the Supreme State Attorney's office before making any further comment. Like many of his party colleagues he remains sceptical with regard to the outcome of the investigation - and says that many things remain unexplained, in particular the high number of wiretappings that were ordered when the Social Democrats were in office.
The Czech air force has said that its Swedish-made Gripen fighter jets will resume training flights on Thursday. The aircraft had been grounded at the weekend pending an investigation by Swedish aviation experts following an accident involving one of their air force's planes last week. A Swedish air force pilot was catapulted from his plane last Thursday, when his ejector seat was activated for no apparent reason. Investigators have since concluded that the accident had been cause by a defect in the pilot's flight suit.
Czech police officers are to undergo training in the use of firearms in crisis situations, according to Tuesday's edition of the economics daily Hospodarske Noviny. Petr Hantak, spokesman for the police presidium said that officers needed to have clear rules about when and how to use their firearm in order to make sound on-the-spot decisions in a crisis. Several incidents in the past few weeks have shown that some officers are inclined to be too hasty in using their guns. A policeman accidentally injured a pedestrian in Prague last week when shooting at a speeding car and in Ostrava a young girl sitting in the passenger seat of a car was seriously injured by a stray bullet which was meant to stop the driver.
The opposition Social Democratic Party has said it would call an international conference on the possible impact of the US missile defense system on European security. Party leader Jiri Paroubek said on Tuesday the party would invite social democrats from Germany, Austria and Slovakia to take part. The party leadership has also requested detailed reports from three of its MPs who recently inspected the US radar station on the Marshall Islands. Their impressions are said to have been wholly positive, though this has not changed the party's official stand. The Social Democrats have said they would accept the US radar base on two conditions - if it were part of NATO's defense system and if it were approved in a public referendum.
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