Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

29-10-2001

Havel attends 83rd ceremony of Czechoslovak independence

President Vaclav Havel was allowed to leave hospital briefly on Sunday to attend a ceremony marking the 83rd anniversary of Czechoslovak independence. During the ceremony Mr Havel awarded state honours to a total of 44 candidates, including medals for bravery. Mr Havel has since returned to his hospital bed to continue treatment for chronic bronchitis. Mr Havel, who is 65, was admitted to hospital last Tuesday. The illness was the latest in a series of the president's health problems.

Skinheads, anarchists march through centre of Prague

And also marking the anniversary of Czechoslovak independence on Sunday were rival groups of far-right skinheads and far-left and anarchist organisations. Hundreds of skinheads gathered in Prague and several other cities for rallies criticising the Czech government and U.S. military action in Afghanistan. Around the same time members of far-left and anarchist groups met in Prague and marched through the city centre. Police say the two groups were kept well apart and there were no reports of any incidents.

Schuessel: no Austrian veto of Czech EU membership over Temelin

The Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel has said he will not veto the Czech Republic's membership of the European Union over the Temelin nuclear plant. However speaking on Austrian television, Mr Schuessel said Austria demanded a guarantee from Prague that Temelin would confirm to European standards. Austria has fiercely opposed the launch of Temelin since it went into test operation last year. The Czech government says the plant is safe, but Austria says Temelin's Soviet design remains a danger despite the addition of Western safety systems. Observers say Mr Schuessel, leader of the conservative People's Party, is on a collision course with his junior partner in the coalition government, the far-right Freedom Party. On Friday the former leader of the Freedom Party, Joerg Haider, said Austria refused to give up the option of vetoing Czech EU membership if Prague refuses to shut down Temelin.

Gross confirms Atta met Iraqi agent in Prague

The Czech Interior Minister, Stanislav Gross, confirmed on Friday that Mohammed Atta, one of the suspected hijackers involved in last month's attacks on the United States, met an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague this year. Mr Gross told a press conference that Atta met the agent, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani, on a visit to Prague in April. Two weeks after the meeting, al-Ani, who was posing as a senior Iraqi diplomat, was expelled from the Czech Republic for "activities incompatible with his status". Mr Gross confirmed that Atta also visited the Czech Republic last year. According to some reports in the media Atta was given anthrax spores during the meeting, although Iraqi officials have denied any involvement in the release of the anthrax bacteria in the United States.

Astronauts involved in Czech Army helicopter crash

A Defence Ministry spokesman has said a Czech Army helicopter carrying the U.S. astronaut of Czech origin Eugene Cernan and Czech astronaut Vladimir Remek crashed on Sunday as it was trying to make an emergency landing near the South Bohemian town of Milevsko. Officials say there were no fatalities but the four crew members and eight passengers were injured, some of them seriously. Both astronauts are believed to have suffered only minor injuries. A spokesman said Mr Cernan had been taken to hospital in Prague for tests.

Weather

And finally a look at the weather. Monday will be another cold and showery day, with daytime temperatures not rising above 11 degrees Celsius, and falling at night to lows of three degrees.

29-10-2001