A court in Prague 1 has sent all three men—Zdenek Dolezel, Ladislav Peta, and Miloslav Rehulka—accused of high-profile blackmail and corruption behind bars. Mr. Dolezel is the former head of the prime minister's office. The charges against Mr. Dolezel, Mr. Peta, mayor of the small south Moravian town of Budisov, and Mr. Rehulka, an Agriculture Ministry employee, were brought on Wednesday in connection with suspected corruption in the handling of EU structural funds channeled via the Local Development Ministry, and the blackmail of architect Marek Ricar who reported the planned fraud to the police. Both Mr. Dolezel and Mr. Rehulka have been taken into custody and transported to a holding cell, while Mr. Peta was taken to a hospital for medical attention; his lawyer told reporters that Mr. Peta has cancer, and was due to start treatment in hospital on Friday.
A 30 year-old woman and her six month-old infant are in serious condition in a Plzen hospital. Tragedy struck on Friday morning when the woman, carrying her baby, walked onto the tracks ahead of an oncoming train in the Plzen district of Bolevec. Investigators say that the woman left a letter behind and intended to end her life. Mother and child are being treated, but no further information has been released.
Police report that an attempt to smuggle two Ukrainian nationals from the Czech Republic into Austria was thwarted on Thursday afternoon. The 49 year-old male and a 52 year-old woman were discovered hiding in the trunk of a car bearing German plates, as it attempted to cross the border into Austria near Znojmo, south Moravia. The driver of the vehicle is identified as a 39 year-old Turkish national, who is currently in custody and charged with human trafficking; if found guilty he faces up to one year in jail. Border police discovered the couple in the truck of the car after noticing that the vehicle's rear was riding low, despite there being only one visible person inside the car. The Ukrainian nationals, who say that they took a bus from Ukraine to Brno, where they were met by the trafficker, are also in custody and awaiting deportation from the Czech Republic.
A regional court in Hradec Kralove, east Bohemia, has sentenced a juvenile responsible for the March murder of Jana Mala, the mayor of Liberek, to time in a special prison for under-age offenders. Laws protecting juvenile offenders prohibit the disclosure of further details concerning the guilty party, or the sentence; the only information available is that the victim was brutally murdered by a relative. A lawyer for the case says that the young offender has already appealed the verdict and sentence.
President Vaclav Klaus has met with leading representatives of the
Christian Democrats, Jan Kasal, Vlasta Parkanova, and Ludmila Mullerova
to begin consultations regarding the formation of a new government. On
Friday afternoon, Mr. Klaus told reporters that he intends to only
support a possible government whose agreement shows that it will bring
stability to the political scene. The president indicated that
approving a government that would be dependent "on one deserter" to
calculate 101 votes in the lower house is not in the cards. Mr. Klaus
added that an agreement between parties should either produce a stable
solution, or lead the country to early elections.
Mr. Klaus will continue meetings with other leading politicians next week. The Civic Democrats are due to meet with the president on Monday afternoon, and the Greens on Tuesday. No details regarding scheduled meetings between Mr. Klaus and the Social Democrats have been released. The Communist Party leadership has also not received an invitation to Prague Castle.
On Friday, Radio Prague launched digital broadcasting within the DRM
(Digital Radio Mondiale) system. The broadcasts can be heard in the
central and south-eastern Europe areas. English and German broadcasts
are from 13.30 to 14.30 UTC on Friday and from 13.00 to 14.00 UTC on
Saturday on the frequency 9505 kHz from a transmitter in Rampisham, UK.
DRM is digital broadcasting which should in the future replace analogue broadcasting on LM, MW and SW. Its main advantages are higher quality signal - close to FM quality - and a reduction in transmitter output. At the moment DRM broadcasts are more or less of a test character because commercially produced receivers are not available, just prototypes. DRM broadcasts can also be picked up by PC using special software (see www.drm.org).
The European Commission has issued a final warning to three countries, including the Czech Republic, over their failure to respect the EU's directive banning tobacco advertisements. The EC is taking Italy to the European Court of Justice in this matter, after the country failed to harmonise its legislation with EU rules. The Czech Republic could be taken to court, too, if it does not explain to the EC why it does not follow the common directives. Apart from the Czechs, a similar problem is faced by Spain and Hungary.
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