On the occasion, both Czech President Vaclav Klaus and Education Minister Petra Buzkova paid surprise visits to several schools and encouraged the students to take their studies seriously. Mr Klaus stressed the importance of learning not one but two foreign languages, while Mrs Buzkova, in a traditional annual radio address, assured children that in a few years they would consider their school years as the best period in their lives. She also promised teachers that she would stand firm in parliament to support unpopular reform in the education sector.
The father of two boys who, along with four other minors, have admitted to killing an 81-year-old woman, has also been charged with the murder of the pensioner. On August 12, the six young boys - five of them under the age of 15 - planned to rob the pensioner at her home in East Bohemia. When she resisted, they stabbed her to death with scissors. The boys were driven to the scene by the 34-year-old Vladimir Gina, who faces a prison sentence of at least 10 years if found guilty.
In southern Moravia, some thirty teachers have filed a law suit against the Czech state at the Constitutional court in Brno. The teachers claim the government had failed to fulfil a promise in its policy programme to provide the education sector with more finances and increase teachers' salaries. The current situation, they say, threatens the level of education in the Czech Republic and therefore violates the citizens' right to a good education.
Six boys aged between 11 and 18 have been charged with the murder of an 81-year-old woman from the village of Olesnice in east Bohemia. The 34-year-old father of two of the boys is also alleged to have taken part in the killing, which took place on August 12. Police had originally believed the killing was the work of one 12-year-old, who was on the run from a home for young offenders. The alleged perpetrators have admitted planning to rob the old woman; when she attempted to defend herself they stabbed her to death with scissors. Several hundred crowns, or less than 15 euros, was stolen from the victim's house.
The British foreign secretary, Jack Straw, held talks with his Czech
counterpart, Cyril Svoboda, on a visit to Prague on Tuesday. Mr Straw, in
the Czech capital to address a meeting of Czech ambassadors, said fears of
problems in the UK with immigration from new member states after European
Union enlargement had proved unfounded. He also said the Union should open
accession talks with Turkey; Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said
he is in favour of closer links with Turkey, and possibly its membership
of the EU.
As well as meeting Mr Svoboda and Mr Gross, Britain's foreign secretary held talks with Czech President Vaclav Klaus and future European commissioner Vladimir Spidla.
Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda told a meeting of Czech ambassadors a joint Czech-German army unit could be established within the framework of EU defence policy, the newspaper Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday. However, the issue has not been discussed with Germany, or within the Czech government.
The Czech Republic's most notorious serial killers, Jaroslav Stodola and his wife Dana, have had an appeal against life prison terms rejected by the Supreme Court in Prague. The couple were found guilty of eight murders and two attempted murders. Most of their victims were elderly and alone, and from small villages. The police came in for a great deal of criticism for failing to suspect foul play in the deaths of several of the couple's victims.
Czech elementary school pupils should be taught not one but two foreign languages, the Education Minister Petra Buzkova told Monday's edition of the newspaper Pravo. Under a new education bill to be discussed by parliament in the autumn, children would begin learning a first foreign language at 9, a year earlier than now, and a second language at 14 at the latest.
A Prague court has confirmed a three-year prison sentence for two former members of the communist political police, Jiri Simak and Zbynek Dudek. The two men were found guilty of torturing political prisoners in 1981 during a secret operation that was devised to force members of the anti-communist opposition to leave Czechoslovakia. The two men had already been sentenced two years ago but the Supreme Court annulled the verdict due to technicalities.
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