20-11-2003

Two international stories are covered in depth on today's front pages - they are US President Bush's visit to Great Britain and the arrest warrant on the US pop idol Michael Jackson. On the domestic front, the spotlight is on next year's state budget and the latest police gaffe - the story of how a serial rapist managed to give the police the slip after he was brought handcuffed to police headquarters.

Interior Minister Stanislav Gross, photo: CTKInterior Minister Stanislav Gross, photo: CTK The latter story is a major embarrassment for the Interior Minister Stanislav Gross. His gratification over the arrest of Martin Duna - accused of 18 counts of rape - was short lived, says Pravo. According to the paper Duna gave the police the slip when officers broke the rule and left him alone for a few minutes while he was waiting to be questioned. Duna allegedly used a paperclip he found on the floor to open the lock on his handcuffs and walked right past the guards at the entrance telling them he'd been released.

Duna was re-captured within hours but only because the police found him fast asleep in his own bed, says Mlada Fronta Dnes, obviously enjoying the joke and playing up the story with the headline "Serial rapist gives the police the slip and hides at home in bed". Minister Gross has told the paper that heads would roll and that a team of inspectors was now on the case assessing who should bear responsibility for the failings.

Meanwhile, emotions are running high over next year's state budget, which is now being debated in Parliament. Following painful cuts in public spending there are now last minute efforts to redistribute funds. Pravo says university rectors are shocked by a proposal to cut their meagre budget by another 430 million crowns in order to boost the budgets of the Academy of Sciences and that of primary schools.

Mlada Fronta Dnes says that although in some public sectors -such as education and health -money is short, MPs are striving to secure what they can for their constituencies. Do you fancy a baseball stadium - just ask your MP, the paper says, in an attention grabbing front page headline. Money may be short, but Social Democrat MP Miloslav Kala has had no trouble securing ten million crowns for a baseball stadium in Blansko, the paper notes.

According to the daily every annual budget includes a 1 billion crown sum for miscellaneous expenditures in different constituencies which MPs fight over in order to improve their standing with voters. Christian Democrat MP Miroslav Kalousek has told the paper that these funds are always justified and well spent - but the paper clearly remains sceptical - and sports an extra-large photo of acres of green grass with the caption "Millions to be spent on baseball".

And finally, Lidove Noviny, reports on a problem that is currently troubling the Czech government - the migration of Slovak Romanies to the Czech Republic. There's been a steady stream of Romany migrants from Slovakia in recent years and there are now approximately 14,000 Slovak Roma living in the Czech Republic. The Cabinet wants to take action to curb the flow - a decision which has not gone down well with the Slovak authorities, who have described the Czech government's concern as "a hysterical reaction".

20-11-2003