Members of an ill-fated Czech climbing expedition have returned from Russia's Kamchatka Peninsula, two weeks after one of their colleagues died while scaling a volcano. The body of the 44-year-old man, who died of head injuries after being hit by a falling rock, has been recovered and will be returned to the Czech Republic in several days. The remaining 19 members of the expedition were rescued after spending three days stranded on Russia's Klyuchevskoi volcano.
Police say a married couple from the town of Kutna Hora have confessed to murdering eight people, in what appears to be the worst case of serial murder in Czech criminal history. Thirty-seven-year-old Jaroslav Stodola and his 34-year-old wife Dana have confessed to murdering and robbing eight elderly people, mostly women. The murders were committed over a period of several years. In some cases the couple made the deaths appear as an accident or suicide. The couple were caught after their ninth intended victim survived. They face the possibility of life imprisonment if found guilty.
An autopsy has confirmed that a 23-year-old member of the president's elite Castle Guard unit, who was found with multiple gunshot wounds on Saturday, committed suicide. Police say the man killed himself by shooting himself in the head with a sub-machine gun. The suicide was the latest in a series of unfortunate incidents for the Castle Guard. An army psychologist attached to the unit was dismissed after he was found guilty of drugging and sexually assaulting soldiers. Recently it was revealed that Castle Guard members had posed in their uniforms for a gay pornographic website. President Vaclav Klaus has called for urgent transformation of the unit, to restore the Castle Guard's reputation as quickly as possible.
The country's largest power producer CEZ has said it has lost all supplies from its largest coal-burning power plant in northwest Bohemia after wind damaged the grid. A spokesman for CEZ said a storm late on Thursday had torn down two pylons and damaged another on the network connecting the firm's Prunerov plant to the national power grid. The spokesman said it would take several weeks to repair the grid and restore supplies, but added that customers had not suffered any disruptions.
The country's largest power producer CEZ said on Friday it had lost all supplies from its largest coal-burning power plant in northwest Bohemia after wind damaged the grid. A spokesman for CEZ said a storm late on Thursday had torn down two pylons and damaged another on the network connecting the firm's Prunerov plant to the national power grid. The spokesman said it would take several weeks to repair the grid and restore supplies, but added that customers had not suffered any disruptions.
President Vaclav Klaus has been released from hospital, and is back on holiday with his wife Livia at the presidential chateau in Lany, outside Prague. Mr Klaus was admitted to Prague's General Teaching Hospital on Thursday evening after apparently overexerting himself in the hot weather. He was released on Friday after undergoing tests. The 62-year-old president checked himself into hospital after falling ill following a game of tennis. Mr Klaus had spent last week at a spa in Karlovy Vary, where he was recovering from a recent bout of tonsillitis. A spokesman for the president said tests had shown Mr Klaus was completely healthy.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has called for open dialogue to relieve mounting tension with labour unions over his government's proposed fiscal reforms. The reform package - which is now being considered by parliament - includes layoffs and pension cuts in the public sector that are opposed by the country's largest union umbrella group, the Czech-Moravian Federation of Trade Unions. Mr Spidla said in a newspaper interview the only way to resolve the conflict was to engage in constant dialogue. Prague could see demonstrations by hundreds of thousands of public sector workers in September, as parliament prepares to vote on the package.
Franz Ulrich Kinsky, a descendant of the Kinsky noble family, has said he will demand that the Czech state return hundreds of antiques and other historical artefacts which he said were wrongfully seized from him after the Second World War. Mr Kinsky's lawyer said the artefacts - including paintings, engravings and a large library of antique books - had been taken from property which was confiscated by the state. Mr Kinsky has filed a total of 157 lawsuits, asking the courts to declare him the legal owner of property including country homes and woodland. Most of the property was confiscated after 1945 from Mr Kinsky's father, an alleged Nazi sympathiser who died before the war. However Mr Kinsky says the property belonged to him, not his father, and the confiscation was therefore illegal. He has so far won five cases in court.
The High Court in Olomouc has increased sentences of two Albanians who were found guilty in April of trafficking in heroin. Naim Kollcaku will spend ten years behind bars instead of three, while his countryman Javer Karagjuzi will spend six years in prison instead of two. A Czech accomplice's sentence was not raised. The High Court increased the sentences after a new witness appeared to testify against the men.
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