Prime Minister Stanislav Gross has said he won't comment further on how he financed the purchase of his luxury apartment in Prague. Recently the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes found out Mr Gross's flat cost more than he had officially earned. The controversy surrounding the purchase took a new turn on Friday when former journalist Rostislav Rod said he had lent money to Mr Gross's uncle, who in turn lent some of it to the prime minister. The daily Mlada Fronta Dnes says this is a third explanation the public have been given by Mr Gross's family since the controversy broke out.
The Czech men's tennis number one, Jiri Novak, has reached the semi-finals of the Millennium International Championships at Delray Beach, Florida, after beating seventh-seeded Kenneth Carlsen of Denmark 6:3 7:5 on Friday. Second-seeded Novak will play South African Wesley Moody on Saturday. It is Novak's first tournament of the season; the 29-year-old took January off to spend time with his family.
The Prime Minister and acting head of the Social Democrats Stanislav Gross has been nominated for the post of party chairman by the Central Bohemian branch of the party. So far Mr Gross has received eleven nominations from regional branches while his challenger Labour and Social Affairs Minister, Zdenek Skromach, has received only one. The Social Democrat Party will elect its new chairman at a national congress in March.
Czech officials have refused to reveal details about the companies that had submitted preliminary offers for the state's 51.1 percent stake in the telecommunications company Cesky Telecom. The deadline for submitting non-binding offers passed on Thursday. Six European telecommunications companies - France Telecom, Belgacom, Swisscom, Telefonica, TDC and Vodafone - as well as four financial groups had shown interest in taking control of Cesky Telecom. Denmark's TDC, however, announced that it had decided to pull out of the tender.
The head of the Prague-West District Court has been dismissed, after a child custody case she was in charge of dragged on for 13 years. Judge Marie Drahokoupilova failed to order a mother to grant her former husband access to their son, despite the father winning a ruling to that effect. The judge said she was not guilty of any wrongdoing, and was considering suing the Justice Ministry.
There was good news for the Czech economy on Friday, when figures were released showing that 2004 saw the lowest foreign trade deficit since 1993. Both imports and exports increased last year after the Czech Republic joined the European Union, with exports rising particularly sharply. The industry and trade minister, Milan Urban, said in terms of euros per capita, the Czech Republic's foreign trade results exceeded those of countries like Spain and Greece, and were on the same level as the United Kingdom.
The director of the Bambini di Praga girls choir, Bohumil Kulinsky, is to remain in custody for another three months, after a Prague court accepted the argument of a prosecutor that he might try to influence witnesses. Mr Kulinsky is charged with sexually abusing 25 members of the choir, with the oldest accusations dating back to 1984.
Bank charges are higher in the Czech Republic than in Germany and Austria, where salaries are up to five times higher, the daily Pravo reported on Friday. For instance, banks in the Czech Republic charge fees for withdrawing money from ATM machines, a service which is free in Germany and Austria. Furthermore, interest on current accounts is higher in those countries, while interest on overdrafts is lower.
The controversy surrounding the question of how Prime Minister Stanislav Gross financed the purchase of his flat has taken a new turn: businessman Rostislav Rod said on Friday he lent money to Mr Gross's uncle, who in turn lent some of it to the prime minister. Mr Gross's uncle previously said he had borrowed the money from relatives living outside the Czech Republic. The prime minister has come under mounting pressure from the opposition and media to explain how he bought his luxury Prague flat, which cost more than he had officially earned.