The regional court in Brno on Monday refused to extradite a Czech businessman to Romania, where he faces an eight-year prison sentence for incitement to murder. Frantisek Priplata was implicated in the murder of a Romanian official killed in 2000. Romanian prosecutors said that Priplata wanted to end a series of strikes at a local plant that had been bought by a Czech company. He escaped while being transferred to a local prison in Romania and returned home via Hungary this year.
The Czech capital, Prague, has been named the wealthiest city in the ten countries that joined the European Union in May last year. A European Commission survey known as the Urban Audit also measured the quality of life in 258 cities in the European Union. Prague did especially well in terms of culture, ranking fifth in terms of the number of museums per capita and seventh in the number of theatres.
The Czech Republic is on target to end the year with its best annual growth rate since 1995. Although GDP growth slowed to 4.9 percent in the third quarter, economists polled by the CTK news agency said they expect it to top 5 percent, which is three times that of the European Union average. The export of automobiles and high-tech products to other EU countries is expected to contribute most to GDP growth.
Deputy Prime Minister Martin Jahn will reportedly become a board member at Skoda Auto. The outgoing minister for economic development, who announced two months ago that he would quit politics by year's end, declined to comment on a report in the business daily Hospodarske Noviny that he would be joining the German-owned carmaker. Mr Jahn did however confirm that he had been approached by the state carrier Czech Airlines (CSA).
The former Czech foreign minister Josef Zieleniec, now a member of the European Parliament, will be the national leader for two small parties competing in next year's general elections. Mr Zieleniec will campaign for the Association of Independent Candidates (SNK) and the European Democrats (ED). He will also be the two parties' joint candidate for the post of prime minister, although he will not run for parliament in the Czech Republic. The Association of Independent Candidates and the European Democrats expect to fully merge and become one party in January.
A "tell all" book by the fugitive Czech billionaire Radovan Krejcir was to be published on Monday. In the book Krejcir -- who is wanted for conspiracy to murder, counterfeiting, forgery, tax evasion, extortion, and abduction -- claims to have lent the ruling Social Democrats tens of millions of crowns in return for special favours. In the book he also describes in detail the alleged corrupt practices of police and governmental authorities, but doesn't name names. Radovan Krejcir escaped from police custody this autumn. He was later found to be living in the Seychelles islands, where he and his family obtained citizenship many years ago.
Jakub Janda of the Czech Republic won a World Cup ski jumping event on Sunday in Harrachov, Czech Republic to claim his third victory of the season. Janda led after a first-round jump of 138.5 metres and his 141-metre leap was also the longest of the second round. He collected 287.1 points on the K125 hill. Janne Ahonen of Finland finished second with 281.7 points and Switzerland's Andreas Kuettel was third with jumps of 132 and 137.5 metres for 268.6 points. Janda now leads the overall standings with 452 points, followed by Kuettel and Ahonen.
Defence Minister Karel Kuhnl is on an official two-day visit to Iraq. Mr Kuhnl held talks with the head of the Multi National Division in the South East, Major General Jonathan Riley, visited the 100-strong Czech military police contingent at Shaiba base, and also met with the six-member medical team that is working with the contingent. The Czech military police have been training Iraqi police in southern Iraq since 2003. The contingent's mandate was to end at the beginning of 2005 but was prolonged until the end of the year.
Up to two percent of the European Union's population could die if a flu pandemic were to break out, according to the grimmest prognosis made at a WHO conference in Prague on Sunday. In an interview for the CTK news agency, Professor Albert Osterhaus from the Rotterdam university medical centre Erasmus MC warned the EU has prepared little for a possible flu pandemic, despite the fact that the lives of up to five million people are at risk. Professor Osterhaus says an action plan ought to be drawn up in Brussels for all EU member states to follow in the case of a pandemic.
Of the 30 nations in the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the Czech Republic has one of the lowest hourly wages. On average Czechs make 3.41 euros an hour, the internet server Mesec.cz reported on Sunday. The only countries with lower wages than that are Poland, Slovakia, and Mexico. This is because Czechs work longer hours, the server says - an average of 164.3 hours a month, while the only OECD country that tops that is Korea with 199.2 hours a month. With an average salary of 28 euros an hour, Denmark tops the list.
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