Daily news summary News

13-06-2004

Exit polls suggest comfortable victory for eurosceptics

Exit polls for the Czech Republic's first ever European parliamentary elections suggest a comfortable victory for the country's eurosceptic parties. According to the estimates released shortly after voting ended on Saturday, the right-of-centre opposition Civic Democrats won 31 percent of the vote, the largely unreconstructed opposition Communists 17 percent, and Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla's ruling Social Democratic party finished in third place with just 10.5 percent. They are closely followed by the strongly pro-EU European Democrats with 10 percent and the Independents with 8.5 percent of the vote. If the exit polls are confirmed by the final results, which are expected to come in early on Monday morning, the Civic Democrats would gain nine of the country's 24 seats in parliament; the Communists would obtain five seats, and the Social Democrats three seats. The exit polls were carried out for Czech Television by the SC&C agency.

The preliminary estimates also suggest that less than one in three voters bothered to cast ballots in the Czech Republic. For political commentator Bohumil Dolezal, the low voter turnout came as no surprise as Czechs no longer find elections to be exciting and new as was the case in the years after the fall of Communism. Today, he says, the enthusiasm is rapidly wearing off as people are getting fed up.

Focus magazine: Former Czechoslovak secret service agent double agent for the CIA

A former commander of a Nazi German army unit charged with the murder of 164 people at the end of World War II worked as a double agent for the United States, writes Focus magazine. Quoting CIA documents, the weekly reports in its latest edition that Ladislav Niznansky worked as a double agent for the CIA just after he was recruited by the Czechoslovak Secret Service in 1947 to keep tabs on the communist opposition in Austria. According to Focus magazine, he supplied the CIA with codenames, the addresses of safe houses and helped turn in agents. He was sentenced to death in absentia in 1962 by a Czech court. Niznansky, who obtained German citizenship in 1996 and is now 86 years old, was arrested in January after a probe by Czech and Slovak officials and is now in custody in Munich, southern Germany.

ICJ holds hearings on Liechtenstein case on the future of property owned on Czech territory

The International Court of Justice in The Hague (ICJ) holds hearings on Monday on charges filed by Liechtenstein against Germany over property seized in Czechoslovakia during the Second World War. Liechtenstein has brought the case to the Court on the grounds that the Federal Republic of Germany has treated Liechtenstein property in former Czechoslovakia as if it were German foreign property and used it in the settlement of its war debts. Liechtenstein considers this to be a violation of its sovereignty and of the property rights of its citizens and has asked the ICJ to declare that Germany had violated international law. Liechtenstein has been laying claim to property it acquired under the Habsburg Empire when the Liechtensteins were a powerful noble family in Austria and owned land, castles, and numerous art work on Czech territory.

Two Czechs detained for smuggling illegal immigrants

Police in Austria have detained two Czech nationals suspected of people smuggling. Four illegal immigrants were found hidden in their min-vans after they were stopped by the police on a road close to Vienna. A third man, also believed to be Czech, drove off and managed to escape from the police. The immigrants from China have confessed that they paid between 10,000-40,000 Euros to get from Beijing to Austria. After travelling from Beijing to Moscow, they were forced to work to pay for part of their trip. They then took a train to Prague, from where they were smuggled across the border into Austria, hidden in the Czechs' mini-vans.

Weather

Monday is expected to be a sunny day with day-time temperatures reaching a maximum of 25 degrees Celsius.

13-06-2004