Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

17-09-2001

Havel: "Perpetrators must be punished"

The Czech President, Vaclav Havel, has demanded uncompromising punishment for the terrorists behind Tuesday's attacks on New York and Washington. Speaking in uncharacteristically sharp language about the attacks, Mr Havel said the crimes must be punished and that it was in the interest of all humanity to make the perpetrators realise that "some things are unacceptable." Mr Havel also expressed concern that the looming conflict would lead to the formation of new blocs along not only political but cultural lines. President Havel said the Czech Republic, which joined NATO in March 1999, would fulfil all its duties as a member "out of solidarity" with its ally the United States.

Havel attends ecumenical service at St Vitus Cathedral

President Havel joined diplomats and politicians on Saturday in attending an ecumenical service for the victims of the attacks at St Vitus Cathedral in Prague Castle. On Friday the Czech Republic joined countries around Europe in a day of mourning for the victims of Tuesday's attacks. Three minutes' of silence was held at noon to remember the dead and injured, and sirens and church bells rang out throughout the country.

Klaus praises unity among Czech politicians in support for U.S.

The speaker of the lower house, Vaclav Klaus, has praised the rare unity among Czech politicians in their condemnation of the attacks and their support for the potential U.S. response to them. Mr Klaus, leader of the main opposition Civic Democrats, said the sense of unity in Prague was an encouraging sign for the future. Speaking on a television discussion programme with the Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kavan, Mr Klaus condemned anti-American sentiments in Czech society, saying there was an indirect but undeniable link between such sentiments and the attacks in New York and Washington. Meanwhile the Czech Defence Minister, Jaroslav Tvrdik, said the world must also fight an economic battle against the prime suspect in the attacks, the Saudi militant Osama bin Laden. Mr Tvrdik warned that bin Laden's business activities included trading in Czech Zetor tractors.

103 Czechs officially missing, but none believed dead or injured

The Foreign Ministry has said the number of Czechs registered as missing since Tuesday now stood at 103. However a ministry official stressed on Sunday that there was no evidence to suggest that any Czech citizens had been either killed or injured in the attacks. The official said the figures were probably the result of people being unable to call home because of the severe communication problems in the United States.

Czech Airlines resume flights to U.S., Canada

Czech Airlines have resumed flights to the U.S. and Canada, with delays of several hours due to strict security measures. A spokesman asked passengers to the U.S. and Canada to arrive at the airport at least five hours before their flight was scheduled to take off. Passengers are prohibited from taking any form of electrical devices on board. Czech Airlines has set up a special number for passengers enquiring about flights to North America - (02) 2010 4310.

Police arrest 15 members of suspected people-smuggling gang

Turning to other news now, and Czech police say they have arrested a gang of international people smugglers believed to be involved in the deaths of 58 Asian immigrants, who were found suffocated in a lorry in the English port of Dover last year. A special police unit arrested eight Chinese and seven Czech nationals aged between 20 and 39, believed to have smuggled some 1,800 Chinese illegal immigrants to Europe and the United States via the Czech Republic and Slovakia over the past two years. Thirty-three Chinese nationals were found hiding in flats in Prague and nearby towns, waiting to be brought across the border. Czech officers worked together with police from Germany, Britain and France.

Operators restart reactor at controversial nuclear plant

The controversial Temelin nuclear power plant was reconnected to the national grid on Sunday, one day after operators restarted the plant's reactor. Temelin was shut down briefly for tests and maintenance. The plant, which has suffered a number of teething problems since being launched last year, is heavily opposed by neighbouring Germany and Austria.

Zeman released from hospital after kidney treatment

The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman was released from hospital on Friday after five days of treatment for kidney stones. A government spokesman said that Mr Zeman would be able to return to work on Monday. Mr Zeman, who is 56, has a history of kidney problems. He was admitted to hospital last year with acute back pain related to his kidney ailments.

Czechs lose to Russia in volleyball bronze medal match

The Czech Republic have lost to Russia in the runners-up match of the world volleyball championships, being held in the eastern town of Ostrava. The Czechs lost 3:2, after losing in the semi-finals to Italy.

Weather

And finally, a quick look at the weather. Tuesday will see a band of low pressure moving across the country from the south-east, bringing with it more cloudy and rainy weather. Temperatures in the daytime will range from 10 to 14 degrees Celsius, falling at night to lows of 6 degrees Celsius.

17-09-2001