Daily news summary News Friday, MAY 08th, 1998

08-05-1998

Radio Prague E-News date: May 8, 1998, 0700 UTC written/read by: Libor Kubik

PRAGUE-POLICE-RESIGN

Prague police chief Miroslav Bornik stepped down on Thursday over allegations about his role in the persecution of dissidents in the period shortly before the collapse of communism in the then Czechoslovakia more than eight years ago.

Bornik was said to have interrogated opponents of the communist regime after street protests early in 1989.

Interior Minister Cyril Svoboda told newsmen he had accepted Bornik's resignation and his insistence that he had never broken the law. Bornik said he was standing down to help protect the integrity and reputation of the Prague police corps.

Minister Svoboda said Bornik would stay with the police because of his excellent professional qualities.

In another development, a deputy chief of the Czech Security and Information Service BIS has resigned over his activities in the former communist ministry of the interior.

CZECH-OPPOSITION-SCANDAL

The Czech opposition Social Democrats' leader Milos Zeman was snubbed by his own party on Thursday for not taking council before he went public last week with documents about former interior minister Jan Ruml's alleged role in a plot to overthrow the former government of Prime Minister Vaclav Klaus.

The party's policy-making council asked for an inquiry to establish whether Zeman's documents were authentic.

Jan Ruml, now the chief of the newly established Freedom Union party, filed a libel suit against Zeman on Wednesday.

HAVEL-HEALTH

President Vaclav Havel's doctors said on Thursday the patient was doing very well three weeks after an emergency abdominal surgery in Austria and one day after being flown to Prague to complete his convalescence.

Havel's chief surgeon Miroslav Cerbak said the president would now spend about a week in Prague's Central Military Hospital to close his tracheotomy before being allowed to go home.

CZECH-US-NATO

Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Winkler warned his country on Thursday not to underestimate the need for its accession to the Washington Treaty to be ratified by all the NATO parliaments.

He was speaking to reporters after a meeting with President Clinton's NATO ratification adviser Jeremy Rosner, who has been to Prague to map the situation here following the US Senate approval of NATO's enlargement to three new members, including the Czech Republic.

Winkler said all NATO countries have the same rights and privileges. Thus far, the enlargement has been endorsed by Canada, Denmark, Germany, Norway and the United States.

The US Senate approval came under criticism in Moscow on Thursday. The Russian defence ministry said the United States had made a serious mistake which could have very negative historic implications and impede the ratification of the START-2 strategic arms reduction treaty by the Russian Duma.

CZECH-ITALY-MAFIA-ARREST

Police in the Moravian town of Olomouc have arrested the boss of two Italian mafia gangs active in Calabria.

Thirty-one-year-old Antonio Forastefano, who has been hunted by Interpol for two years, is suspected of extortion and murders. The Olomouc police said he had been hiding in the Czech Republic. If extradited and convicted, he will face up to 15 years in Italian jails.

CZECH-HANDICAPPED-KILIMANJARO

A 39-year-old handicapped Czech, who climbed the Kilimanjaro, told a press conference in Prague that he just wanted to prove the strength of personal motivation.

Ludek Sanik from the north Bohemian town of Liberec scaled the 19,000-foot peak -- Africa's highest -- only six months after suffering an injury and his right foot was amputated at the ankle last summer.

Sanik, fitted with an artificial foot, is also an accomplished triathlonist and member of the Czech Association of Handicapped Athletes.

PRAGUE-MUSIC-FESTIVAL

The Prague Spring International Music Festival will be neither sold off nor privatised, according to Deputy Culture Minister Vladimir Koronthaly.

At a press conference on Thursday, he dismissed speculations that the prestigious musical feast, held since 1946, is to go into private hands. He said current plans envisage converting the festival into a non-state public organisation.

The festival, which traditionally starts on May 12, attracts prominent artists and large audiences.

ICE HOCKEY

Ice hockey -- and in Thursday's Group F quarter-final match at the World Championship in Basle, Switzerland on Thursday, Olympic champions the Czech Republic beat Slovakia one goal to nil.

The Czechs collected the first two valuable points for the semi-finals battle. The only goal was scored by the Czech Republic's defender Frantisek Kucera in the eleventh minute of the game.

CZECH-WEATHER

Finally, a look at the weather -- Friday will be a balmy day here in the Czech Republic, with almost clear skies and daytime temperatures between 20 and 24 degrees Celsius.

An outlook for the last two days of the long weekend that we are enjoying after Liberation day -- warm air will continue to flow from the south around a high-pressure area over Central Europe, the Baltics and Ukraine.

The weatherman says the mornings may be misty but daytime highs will be from 22 to 26 Celsius on both Saturday and Sunday.

And that's the end of the news.

08-05-1998