A Czech court has sentenced a former border guard to three years in jail for shooting dead a German citizen whilst on border patrol. The incident occurred in 1986, when soldiers of the former Czechoslovak army were under orders to shoot anyone attempting to escape from behind the Iron Curtain. Pavel Cada, who has appealed the verdict, says he fired a warning shot in the man's direction, but did not intend to kill him. He said that he and two other guards patrolling the area had been alerted to the fact that two Poles had attempted a crossing in the vicinity. The German, who died from a bullet wound to the chest, was actually on the German side of the border when he was shot, having lost his way and wandered closer to the border than he intended to go. The former soldier responsible said the border was not well marked and that he had no idea he was shooting at someone standing on German territory.
Cross border travel is reported to have slowed down as a result of measures aimed at preventing the spread of foot and mouth disease. Passengers entering the Czech Republic by road are having to put up with a one to three hour wait at the busiest crossings with neighbouring Germany and international trains are on average fifteen to twenty minutes late. This is due to the fact that all passengers entering the country are required to dispose of any foodstuffs and to disinfect their shoes at border check-points. Seventy of the smaller border crossings for pedestrians with neighbouring Poland and Germany have been closed down until further notice. Similar measures have been introduced at all international airports.
The Institute for Protection of Private Data has asked the Czech Statistical Office not to process the national census questionnaires until it can provide more security guarantees. The head of the institute Mr. Karel Neuwirt expressed serious concern over possible information leaks during processing, and said that certain questions should never have been included in the questionnaire since they were in violation of the law on protection of private data. The fact that the processing of information is to be conducted by a private firm has also raised serious doubts. The Czech Statistical Office has said it would proceed according to plan unless a court ruled otherwise.
The German state attorney on the highly publicized court case against Julius Viel, a former SS officer charged with the murder of 7 Jews at a detention camp in what is now the Czech Republic, has demanded a life sentence for the accused. In a closing address to the jury, state attorney Kurt Schrimm argued that the 83 year-old former member of the Waffen SS killed 7 Jews in cold blood in front of several eye witnesses, among them the crown witness on the case, Canadian economics professor Adalbert Lallier, himself a former member of the elite Nazi unit. Viel has pleaded innocent and his lawyer tried unsuccessfully to have the case dropped due to the defendant's advanced age and medical reports that say he is suffering from cancer. A verdict is expected later this month in what is likely to be one of the country's last hearings against a suspected Nazi war criminal.
There is continuing controversy on the Czech political scene over the Czech Foreign Ministry's decision to propose a United Nations resolution that would question the effectiveness of US-led sanctions against Cuba. An increasing number of opposition MPs are questioning the wisdom of linking the issue of human rights violations on the island to sanctions against the Castro regime. Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee has distanced itself from the initiative, calling on the Czech Foreign Ministry to bear in mind the need for good relations with the United States and the European Union. The Senate's Foreign Affairs Committee has likewise expressed serious concern regarding this foreign policy move and asked the Foreign Minister to consult the wording of the resolution with the Upper Chamber before it is tabled at the United Nations.
The Czech Prime Minister Milos Zeman, who is on a two day official visit to South Korea, has met with the South Korean President Kim Te Dzung. According to the CTK news agency the hour long one-on-one meeting focussed primarily on means of boosting trade. The two sides signed an agreement on cooperation in the sphere of nuclear power and arranged for an exchange of information on potential business and investment opportunities. Last years' trade turnover between the two states amounted to 200 million US dollars and South Korea has approximately 150 million dollars worth of investments in the Czech Republic.
The Austrian branch of Greenpeace has launched a nationwide petition against imports of electricity produced at the Temelin nuclear power plant in South Bohemia. The petition will be sent to the country's major power distributors, along with a request for them to end all business links with the German company E.ON, which imports electricity from the Czech Republic. A spokesman for Greenpeace told journalists on Thursday that although Austria has a law banning electricity imports from nuclear power plants that are not considered safe, power generated at Temelin could still reach Austria via a distributor in a third country. Greenpeace remains fiercely opposed to the launch of the Temelin nuclear power plant, arguing that it does not meet international nuclear safety standards and should be closed down for a thorough inspection.
A Czech court has sentenced a man to 22 years in prison for shooting dead his five year old son as an act of revenge against his wife. The judge on the case said that the cruel and senseless murder of an innocent victim of a sordid divorce case merited exceptional punishment. One of the experts who gave evidence in the case, described the killing of the five year-old as a pre-mediated execution. The boy was playing in the garden of his grandparents' home when his father arrived and shot him in the head from behind. He then called his wife and the police.
And finally, a quick look at the weather forecast: Friday should be another gray and rainy day with temperatures between 10 and 14 degs C. The outlook for the weekend is very similar, only Sunday's temperatures are expected to drop slightly to between seven and eleven degs C. A belt of rain moving across the country should make it a wet weekend for most of us, although the southern parts of the Czech Republic may see some clear skies.
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