Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

23-12-2003

Three arrested for extortion

Czech police have said they have taken three people - two men and one woman with links to organised crime - into custody for theft and extortion of several million crowns. Spokeswoman Blanka Kosinova made the announcement Tuesday. Two of those arrested were Czech nationals: a 44-year-old man and 52-year-old woman. The third accomplice, 26-years-old, is a foreigner. Of the three one of the suspects taken in custody is said to have links to the so-called "Mukachevo Brigade", involved in racketeering, money laundering and organising illegal labour in the Czech Republic. According to police the trio used violence and fraud to force two men from Moravia to sign contracts, as well as a bill of exchange worth almost two million crowns, earlier this year. In July, they lured both men to a family residence in Prague on the pretext of purchasing Persian carpets. Valuables stolen by the gang included cell phones, watches and gold chains. As collateral for the forced bills of exchange the trio held on to Persian carpets worth 1.7 million crowns.

Mukachevo Brigade head also held in custody

In related news police have also released information the head of the Mukachevo Brigade has been in Czech custody since mid-December. The 35-year-old Ukrainian came to the Czech Republic at the invitation of one of the extortionists arrested Tuesday, but was subsequently detained by Czech police. He too has been charged and now awaits trial.

Czech spending spree continues at feverish pitch

Just a day away from Christmas Eve Czechs have continued withdrawals in record amounts. According to the Czech news agency CTK, bank withdrawals have been averaging 5, 000 crowns per transaction, amounting to billions of crowns a week. On December 12th the Czech bank Ceska Sporitelna announced record withdrawals in the amount of 1.5 billion crowns in a single day - an historic record. Ceska Sporitelna owns more than 1,000 ATM machines, close to half the number in the Czech Republic. According to an earlier TNS Factum poll, on average each Czech will spend at least 4,500 thousand crowns on Christmas gifts this year.

Argument on Salvation Army steps leads to knife attack

The internet news site iDnes has reported that an argument between two homeless men outside a Salvation Army branch in Prague's Holesovice district ended in a knife attack on Tuesday. One of the men drew the blade and attacked the other in the heat of the argument, cutting him near the throat. The victim, luckily, suffered only light injuries. He was treated in hospital. The assailant was not detained - he escaped the scene of the attack on a child's scooter.

Weather

Wednesday should see sunny periods throughout the day with daytime temperatures between -7 and -3 degrees Celisus.

23-12-2003