Daily news summary News Wednesday, DECEMBER 09th, 1998

09-12-1998

Welcome to Radio Prague. Those were the headlines and now the news in more detail, read by Libor Kubik.

CZECH-AUSTRIA-MAYOR-HAVEL

Vienna's former mayor Helmut Zilk, cleared by Czech authorities of allegations that he collaborated with the former Czechoslovak secret police, met President Vaclav Havel on Tuesday after saying he needed no further apology.

Havel had withheld a high Czech honour which was to be given to Zilk in late October after the former head of an organisation investigating communist-era crimes told the president about files from the StB secret police which alleged that the Austrian had been a paid informant in the 1960s.

Seventy-one-years-old Zilk vehemently denied the charges. Last week, the Czech ambassador to Austria wrote to Zilk saying an investigation had found no substance to the accusations.

CZECH-NATO-SOLANA

NATO's Secretary General Javier Solana said on Tuesday that the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland had not yet met the military requirements needed for their admission into NATO.

Solana said in Brussels that the date of their admission depended on their military compliance but expressed hope that all they will be admitted before NATO's Washington summit in April.

CZECH-SOLANA-REACTION

Here in Prague, Chairman of the parliamentary defence and security committee Petr Necas said he was hardly surprised by Solana's statement.

He said it would take only a few weeks to meet the minimum defence requirements of the NATO alliance.

And according to Czech Defence Minister Vladimir Vetchy, it is less important for his country to know the exact date of its admission as long as it will happen in time for the Washington summit.

CZECH-SENATE-VOTE-PROTEST

The Czech Republic's main opposition Civic Democratic Party of ex- premier Vaclav Klaus said on Tuesday it would contest the Supreme Court's ruling which voids the election of Brno's former mayor Dagmar Lastovecka to the Senate a few weeks ago.

Our correspondent says Lastovecka found herself to be a victim of several promotional statements in the media after the end of the official election campaign.

Mr Klaus said at a hastily convened press conference that his party was going to seek a probe by the Constitutional Court.

Lastovecka told journalists she was shocked and confused by the Supreme Court's decision. She denied any wrongdoing.

CZECH-BRITAIN-HOLOCAUST

Britain will allocate 25 million pounds to a fund for compensating property claims of Holocaust victims from eastern and central Europe including the Czech Republic.

Our correspondent says many Czechs still have not been refunded their property stashed away to Britain in the 1930s, after Hitler came to power in neighbouring Germany.

When the Second World War broke out and Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Nazis, Britain confiscated these assets because they technically belonged to enemy nations.

A senior official of the British Trade Office on Tuesday told the Czech news agency CTK that all Czechs seeking such compensation should contact the British embassy in Prague. He said further details would also be available on the Internet. The address is www.enemyproperty.gov.uk.

CZECH-BRITAIN-DRUGS

The Czech truck driver sentenced on Monday by a British court to 16 years in jail for drug smuggling may have involuntarily presented an aggravating evidence against himself by claiming he had had no knowledge about the haul seized from his vehicle late last year.

His British investigator Simon Cowley on Tuesday told CTK's London correspondent that the Czech, 35-year-old Jan Jisl, had smuggled almost 70 kilograms of high-quality heroin in his truck when intercepted in East London nearly one year ago.

CZECH-ARMY-CONSCRIPT-DEATH

A 23-year-old Czech Army conscript died of a mysterious infection after being rushed to the Prague Military Hospital late on Monday.

Doctors said they were puzzled by the case but ruled out an outbreak of massive infection in the barracks.

An autopsy, carried out on Tuesday, failed to clarify the case. The serviceman complained of nausea and strong headaches before he was taken to hospital.

CZECH-JOBLESS

Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose by 11,000 in November to reach 363,000 and a record-high seven percent.

The Czech Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs said on Tuesday that the highest unemployment figures, of up to 11 percent, were registered in some districts of northern Bohemia.

CZECH-WEATHER

A quick look at the weather -- and Wednesday will be a clear but very cold day in the Czech Republic, with daytime maxima between two and six degrees Celsius below zero.

In the night, the temperatures will drop to minus six to minus 10 Celsius and up to minus 13 in the western parts of the country. Daytime highs will be also pretty below freezing -- between minus two and minus six degrees.

I am Libor Kubik and that's the end of the news.

09-12-1998