European Union food inspectors have begun inspecting Czech food companies in a final check up before EU accession in May. However the inspection was overshadowed by what could be the country's first case of BSE or mad cow disease this year, and the ninth case since BSE was first discovered in a Czech herd in 2001. The State Veterinary Authority says test results should determine by Thursday whether the cow, from a farm near Litomysl, was infected. Food safety has been a key issue in accession talks between Brussels and Prague. Last year, the EU said hygiene at meat processing plants and dairies was a problem which needed addressing before accession. Several hundred companies were forced to close at the end of 2003.
Police in Prague are searching for two men in connection with an attack on the editor of the country's leading investigative newspaper. Tomas Nemecek, editor of the Respekt weekly, is recovering in hospital after an attack that he said included being tear-gassed, hit on the head with a club and kicked in the face by a pair of unknown assailants on Saturday outside his home in Prague. Mr Nemecek said he believed the attack was in retaliation for articles about crime gangs in northern Czech cities that had appeared in his weekly.
Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat has urged Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda to put pressure on Israel to advance the Middle East peace process, the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Monday. Mr Svoboda met the Palestinian leader during a meeting in his bombed-out headquarters in the West Bank town of Ramallah at the weekend. Mr Arafat reportedly told Mr Svoboda that Israel was boycotting the so-called "roadmap to peace", and asked him to put pressure on the Israelis to comply with the agreement. Mr Svoboda spoke to reporters after the meeting, saying his government sympathised with Israel's interest in protecting its security, and that both parties must adopt a compromise that was bold and liberal.
The state prosecutor's office has appealed against last week's court verdict in Prague which ordered the halting of a trial of four former Communist agents accused of sending a letter bomb in 1975 to a Czech politician living in exile. The men had been accused of sending the letter bomb to reform Communist Jiri Pelikan, who was living in Rome. The court said the offence was barred under the statute of limitations.
Two Czechs were charged on Monday with smuggling protected native orchids and other rare plants out of New Zealand. The two have been charged under New Zealand's Trade in Endangered Species Act, following an investigation by the Wildlife Enforcement Group, which investigates smuggling of the country's flora and fauna. The two face up to three years in prison if convicted.
Tuesday will be a mostly cloudy day, with snow showers throughout the country. Daytime temperatures will range from -2 to 2 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of -8 degrees.
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