20-08-2003

United Nations headquarters in Baghdad after the Wednesday's attack, photo: CTKUnited Nations headquarters in Baghdad after the Wednesday's attack, photo: CTK The carnage caused by Wednesday's bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad is splashed across all the front pages. The papers carry eyewitness accounts of the massacre including a report from the senior Czech envoy to Iraq, who says she lost a close friend in the blast.

Mlada Fronta Dnes notes that this attack is shockingly different in that it was directed against the United Nations which did a great deal to prevent a military strike against Iraq and has since worked hard to help the Iraqi people and to lay down the foundations of a better life for them. This terrorist act was directed against all the democratic forces in Iraq, including the Iraqis themselves and their hopes for a better life, Mlada Fronta Dnes says.

On the domestic front, the papers have highlighted the ongoing trial of the former finance minister Ivo Svoboda and his aide Barbora Snopkova, who stand accused of fraud. The papers are merciless in their criticism, rejecting the attempts of the accused to present this as an attempt to discredit the Social Democratic Party.

There is too much evidence to the contrary, Hospodarske Noviny notes, and who should know better what financial fraud is than a finance minister and his aide. In any case, the paper says, the former Prime Minister Milos Zeman -under whom Mr Svoboda served - managed to sail through the scandal with no loss of credit. He promptly made his former finance minister a shining example of the fact that nobody was too high up to escape the government's "Clean Hands" anti-corruption drive.

Photo: CTKPhoto: CTK Meanwhile a 110 million crown jackpot has whipped the country into a frenzy. Half of the country -over 5 million would-be-millionaires have filled in lottery coupons spending 98 million crowns in the process. Mlada Fronta Dnes has devoted a full page to the pools - featuring stories about former winners and how money changed their lives, advising people not to hand in their resignation before they are quite certain they have won and to take it easy for the sake of their health.

Pravo reports on finance minister Bohuslav Sobotka's plan to fight smuggling and tax evasion by introducing revenue stamps on legally produced alcoholic beverages, a measure applied to cigarettes in 1994. The paper notes that bottled beer and wine will not have to bear revenue stamps, but anyone buying whisky, vodka or cognac will have to dig deeper into their pocket as of the beginning of next year. A higher consumer tax and the price of the revenue stamp will make itself felt, Pravo says.

Dusan Kazda, the murder of a 75 year old priest, photo: CTKDusan Kazda, the murder of a 75 year old priest, photo: CTK And finally, all the papers report on the life sentence handed to a man for the brutal murder of a 75 year old priest. Although a life sentence is the harshest possible punishment in this country, the judge said that this was more than just exemplary punishment -he was certain that the 29 year old murderer could not be re-socialized.

Mlada Fronta Dnes says you could hear a pin drop in the courtroom as the man told his story, saying he had sat and talked with the priest and suddenly felt an overpowering urge to kill him. I knew what was going to happen, I did it and then I watched him die, the killed admitted. The priest was later found with numerous knife wounds and a machete through his head. The inhabitants of Dub nad Moravou who were all in court to hear the verdict said justice had been done.

20-08-2003