13-11-2003

Irak, photo: CTKIrak, photo: CTK Today's Czech dailies all take note of the latest tragedy in Iraq - 18 Italian soldiers killed in the town of Nasiriya when a bomb went off: a soldier hangs his head at the devastation on the cover of HOSPODARSKE NOVINY while the headline proclaims "Americans look for a way to get out of Iraq". Meanwhile, other stories making the front pages include the US ambassador's role in lobbying for American F-16s for Prague, and a legal case involving the interior minister and the weekly Respekt.

But, we begin first with another legal case making the pages of MLADA FRONTA DNES . The case ended on Wednesday with the handing down of prison sentences for two Czechs and one Swede for the production and distribution of child pornography. All three men were given relatively light prison terms.

The longest, just three-and-a-half years, was given to Swede John Axel Victorin, who acted as photographer in the scheme, which used a modelling agency as cover for its illicit activities. MLADA FRONTA DNES shows the pornographer on its front-page, walking hand-cuffed from his trial.

Covering the outcome of the trial MLADA FRONTA DNES writes that some politicians have been shaking their heads over the lightness of the sentences, incomparable to sentences in England and Germany. During the trial one girl described how Victorin had photographed her clothed since the age of eleven, but had offered to do nudes after she turned fourteen.

It has come to light that many parents were innocent of what their children were getting into, thinking they were pursuing regular modelling careers.MLADA FRONTA DNES quotes a social worker from the organisation 'Our Child' as saying if parents had been more vigilant and interested in what their children were doing, the sexual abuse need never have happened.

Turning to the story of American F-16 fighter planes now, the daily PRAVO writes that US ambassador to Prague, Craig Stapleton, began lobbying on Wednesday for American F-16s. For some time now, the Czech government has under pressure to replace its aging fleet of Russian-made MiGs.

Speaking before a model F-16 on Wednesday Mr Stapleton backed David Potts, the head of the Central Europe office of manufacturers Lockheed Martin, by saying the planes were ideally compatible with the F-16 programme within NATO, of which the Czech Republic is a member.

While Mr Potts extolled the advantages of the F-16s, PRAVO compares the offer to the surprise offer by the Swedish consortium BAE systems which surprised its rivals last, week when it said it would sell the Czech Republic new planes at second-hand prices. Presumably, that is just one of the reasons Mr Stapleton has now gotten involved in pushing his own country's wares.

In the meantime, one person who has other worries on his mind is the country's Interior Minister Stanislav Gross. LIDOVE NOVINY writes that Mr Gross is suing Respekt for slander, saying the weekly caused his popularity to drop by 4 percent, after it ran an article connecting Mr Gross to some shady characters, including the owner of a brothel and a businessman the police had under surveillance. Meanwhile, Respekt is standing by its story.

13-11-2003