Central Bohemia and the capital Prague were hit by a hail storm on Monday afternoon. Two women were hit by falling branches and were taken to hospital with head injuries. A number of tram lines were interrupted for several hours as fallen trees broke the trolleys in some places, and elsewhere tram tracks were under water. Some metro stations were also flooded. The hail storm marked the onset of a cold front bringing an end to a week-long heat wave.
The Czech government will not comment on France's rejection of the European Constitution until the next meeting of the European Council in three weeks' time, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said on Monday. He added that the adoption of the EU Constitution remained a priority for the Czech Republic. The opposition Civic Democrats welcomed the result of the French referendum as well as Czech President Vaclav Klaus who said it "proved that there was a gulf between the opinions of Europe's political elite and normal Europeans". The Czech Republic has not decided how or when to ratify the constitution. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek favours holding a referendum along with parliamentary elections in June 2006.
The Czech Republic's ambassador to the United Kingdom, Stefan Fule, has said the embassy can neither confirm nor deny the information that the mute man, known as the "Piano Man", whom British police are trying to identify after he was found wandering on an English beach last month, could be a Czech citizen. According to Mr Fule, the British authorities have not yet contacted the Czech embassy. Two Czech rock musicians say that after seeing the man's photograph, they recognised him as their friend, Czech musician Tomas Strnad.
Czech footballer Svatopluk Pluskal who was part of the Czechoslovak team that reached the 1962 World Cup final, has died at the age of 74 in a nursing home. Pluskal, who was capped 56 times between 1952 and 1965, was not only in the side that lost 3-1 to Brazil in the World Cup final but also finished third in the 1960 European Championships. He formed a stunning midfield partnership with Josef Masopust, European footballer of the year in 1962, both at international and club level at Dukla Prague. Pluskal, who suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2004, coached Prague Bohemians, Cyprus outfit Enosis Neon Paralimni and Skoda Pilsen.
Some 150 of the country's finest music and theatre ensembles are performing at the Mezi Ploty, or Between Fences, cultural festival at Prague's Bohnice psychiatric hospital this week-end. Mezi Ploty is open to the public, with the aim of increasing awareness and understanding of mental illness, alcoholism and drug addiction. The festival is organised every year and has always enjoyed much popularity with some 20,000 visitors. Performers this year range from the underground Plastic People of the Universe to Czech Superstar (Czech Pop Idol) Aneta Langerova.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has suggested President Vaclav Klaus should attend the next time the cabinet meets to discuss foreign policy. The prime minister and the president have been at odds recently over who legally has the right to present the country's foreign policy abroad, with Mr Paroubek saying it is clearly the responsibility of government. On Thursday the prime minister threatened to ban President Vaclav Klaus from travelling abroad if the president contradicted the government's foreign policy. Mr Klaus is well-known for his opposition, for example, to the EU constitution. On Friday the prime minister tempered his words somewhat by saying that trips would not be banned, just carefully weighed. The government approves all official trips by the president.
Customs officials have stated that in recent years a greater abundance of illegal drugs smuggled into the Czech Republic have come from the Netherlands. Illegal substances have included the drug pervetin, a methamphetamine. This year successful recoveries by customs officials included uncovering more than 2 kilograms of ecstasy as well as a quarter kilogram of heroin found on a bus from Amsterdam headed for the city of Brno. In 2004 customs officials uncovered 59 cases of drugs smuggling by car, and 37 by bus including a discovery of 25 kilograms of 100 percent pure heroin.
The Czech Justice Ministry has forwarded - to a Prague court - a Qatari request for the extradition of Prince Hamid bin Abdal Sani, standing trial in the Czech Republic for the alleged sexual abuse of underage girls. The Justice Ministry has vetted the document and said that by law the court should hand the case over to the judiciary in Mr Sani's home country. A verdict by the Prague court is expected Monday. Mr Sani is accused of having abused 16 girls all under the age of fifteen in his flat in the Czech capital.
Forty-six companies, including Austria's Steyr-Daimler-Puch and
Finland's Patria, have applied to take part in a tender to produce
8-wheel armoured carriers for the Czech Army. The deal has been slated
as worth 25 billion crowns, or more than 1 billion US dollars. Friday
was the final deadline for registration. The tender - the most
expensive order by the Czech Army since the fall of communism in 1989 -
was approved by the government in April and will see the replacement of
the old OT-64s with 200 new vehicles. The OTs have been in use since
The Defence Ministry will then decide during the summer on who will make the tender's 2nd round. The winner is expected to be known by the end of 2005 or early 2006.
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