24-03-2004

Mlada Fronta Dnes leads with news that President Vaclav Klaus has issued his first official pardon for murder. President Klaus pardoned 22-year-old Ondrej Gregor, who killed his violent alcoholic father. Mr Gregor, who was sentenced to five years in prison, killed his father while trying to protect his mother and brother. He tells the paper of the huge sense of relief felt by both himself and his family.

Vaclav Klaus, photo: CTKVaclav Klaus, photo: CTK President Klaus has so far issued a total of 16 pardons since entering office last March. He decides on each case personally, says Mlada Fronta Dnes. Mr Klaus was a critic of his predecessor Vaclav Havel's often controversial pardons, and vowed to be more circumspect as president.

Also on the front page of Mlada Fronta Dnes, news of a new law approved by the Senate requiring journalists, radio and TV presenters in the commercial media always to use formal, grammatically correct Czech. The bizarre law, submitted by the opposition Communist Party, is a bid to protect the Czech language, which the authors of the bill claim is under threat. Critics point out there are no sanctions in the law for those who disobey the rules of Czech grammar, making the whole exercise rather pointless.

The business daily Hospodarske Noviny reports that Czechs are spending more money on tea than on education. The paper says that every Czech drank 260 cups of tea in 2003 which ranks the Czech Republic, known for its record consumption of beer, third in Europe. According to Hospodarske Noviny, only the Irish and the Turks drink more tea per head. The most favourite kinds are black tea and fruit blends. The consumption of tea still increasing in the Czech Republic - since last year it has risen by more than 12 percent.

Pravo carries a photo of the inside of the brand new giant Sazka Arena in Prague, the multipurpose covered stadium which is going to host the World Ice Hockey Championships next month. The paper reports that the stadium filled up for the first time on Tuesday during two concerts. 24,000 people were to test the capacity of the arena and help discover potential flaws which could be fixed by the start of the championships. Another such event will follow on Thursday before Sazka Arena is officially opened by President Vaclav Klaus on Saturday.

24-03-2004

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