The Supreme Court has lowered the sentences of two Slovaks who attempted to sell three kilograms of radioactive uranium in a hotel in Brno last year. They were arrested in the act of handing it over and the Brno regional court sentenced them to eight and ten years in prison respectively. The Supreme Court has lowered those sentences by two years on the grounds of a report by experts who testified that the uranium was low quality and the given amount would not have sufficed to make a bomb.
There is reported to have been a breakthrough in talks with landowners in the Nosovice region in Moravia-Silesia, opening the way for a deal with the Hyundai car manufacturer who favours this particular site for the construction of a new plant. The governor of the region Evzen Tosenovsky ran into serious problems persuading some of the landowners to sell. After announcing that he would halt preparations for the industrial zone if a deal was not reached by Friday, the negotiations are said to have gained new impetus. Hyundai's decision on the location of the new plant is expected by the end of the year.
Parliament has extended by another four months the mission of the Czech field hospital in Pakistan sent out to help earthquake victims. The thirty member team of doctors and nurses are to continue providing medical care until April 30th of next year. The Czech government has earmarked over 100 million crowns for humanitarian aid to the region.
The French police have arrested Roman Cabrada, a convicted murderer who escaped from a high security Czech prison five weeks ago. He was arrested in Nice early on Wednesday on an international arrest warrant. Cabrada escaped from the Plzen-Bory prison house together with another convict, Rostislav Roztocil, who was arrested in Germany several days later. The case has triggered a debate on security in Czech prisons.
Britain, the current EU president leading the budget talks on Wednesday tabled a new proposal, offering to restore some aid to the EU newcomers. Observers say however that the proposed 2.6 billion euro budget increase is unlikely to placate the newcomers who feel hard-done-by the steep budget cuts. Poland and Hungary have led dissent to the proposal, threatening to veto Britain's proposal unless aid funds are distributed in line with the EU solidarity principle.
A new survey released by Intrum Justitia has revealed that when it comes to payments Czech firms are the second-worst in Europe. Of seventeen countries examined only Portugal fared worse. According to the survey, among developed countries, the Czech Republic has three times the number of cases where creditors never receive payment. Justitia's director indicated on Tuesday that over two years of study the Czech Republic had improved somewhat on the risk index, but not enough to see a change in the country's position overall on the ratings ladder.
The Swedish media has reported that a 39-year-old Swedish national has been in custody in the Czech Republic since the weekend, arrested as an alleged terrorist plotter wanted by both the FBI and the US Central Intelligence Agency. On Sunday the suspect was detained at Prague airport on a Stockholm flight en route to Beirut, on the basis of an international arrest warrant. In the past the man, who has not been identified, was accused by the US of connections to terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden. The US has sought the suspect's extradition for a number of years for alleged terrorist plotting on US territory. The Swedish Foreign Ministry has not provided details in the case - investigations are underway.
The Czech region of Moravia-Silesia said on Monday it would halt
preparations at the Nosovice industrial zone to house a new Hyundai car
plant if it is unable to buy the required land by the end of the week.
A news release said that the region had exhausted all the legal
possibilities at its disposition to buy the land to which five percent
of the owners remained against. The region said that instead it will
deploy its efforts to attract Hyundai to build its first European car
plant at a second site at Mosnov, in the east of the Czech Republic, if
the situation did not change.
Until now Nosovice has appeared to be the preferred location for the 1.24 billion US dollar deal for the South Korean car plant, which the Czech Republic hopes to sign over neighbouring Poland.
Hyundai's decision on the location of the plant is expected by the end of 2005.
A member of the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party, Tomas Julinek, has criticised Health Minister David Rath for proposed changes in the health sector. On Tuesday Mr Julinek stated the proposed changes, the reduction of medical services by one-fifth, would see patients suffer, primarily those with chronic diseases, including patients awaiting kidney or bone marrow transplants. The health minister has not responded to the charge. Mr Rath, who is unaffiliated but will run on the Social Democrat ballot in general elections next year, has been at odds with members of the opposition Civic Democratic Party on numerous occasion in recent weeks, trading political barbs and charges over alleged corruption.
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).
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