Around 200 opponents of a US radar base in the Czech Republic held a protest outside the Office of the Government on Tuesday. They unfurled banners and erected tents, saying they were setting up a peaceful anti-radar base. The protesters said their main goal was to convince Czech politicians to let the public decide the matter freely in a national referendum. The radar base would be part of a US missile defense system located jointly in the Czech Republic and Poland.
Hospitals in many parts of the Czech Republic are closed to visitors due to an ongoing flu epidemic. South Bohemia and Moravia are said to be the hardest hit but most regions report an average two thousand cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Doctors have warned elderly people to avoid public places and increase their daily intake of vitamins. The epidemic is ascribed to the particularly mild winter which central Europe is experiencing this year.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus on Tuesday met Japanese business leaders at the start of an official four-day visit to Japan. He later received an honorary doctorate at Waseda University in Tokyo. On Wednesday the Czech president and his wife Livia are to be received by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. Apart from strengthening ties with Japan, President Klaus wants to help change the Czech Republic's negative trade balance with that country. The president is accompanied by representatives of 14 leading Czech companies.
The police have shelved the case concerning the alleged dubious financing of former prime minister Stanislav Gross' flat saying that they have no evidence indicating that he committed a crime. The scandal surrounding Mr. Gross' private finances resulted in a government crisis in 2005 and eventually led to his political downfall. Although Mr. Gross was unable to explain where he had got the money for his luxury flat the police said they found his finances in order and above board.
The Czech Intelligence Service has cast doubt on allegations that the former prime minister and long-serving Central Bank governor Josef Tosovsky cooperated with the communist-era secret police. A spokesman for the Intelligence Service said that had Mr. Tosovsky been an official agent his name would have appeared on the list of secret police agents. The daily Mlada Fronta Dnes made the allegations in its Monday edition, citing interior ministry archives. The paper said Mr. Tosovsky had drafted economic analyses at the request of the communist secret police and handed over notes from meetings with foreign financiers. Josef Tosovsky, now head of the Financial Stability Institute in Switzerland, has denied the allegations.
The Czech police say they have detained a highly organized gang of car thieves operating across several European states. More details will be made available on Wednesday. Roughly 20,000 cars are stolen in the Czech Republic annually. If convicted the ring-leaders could face a sentence of up to nine years.
A Prague court ruled on Tuesday that the City Hall was wrong to ban a protest march against the possible deployment of a US radar base in the Czech Republic at the end of January. The court said that the reasons cited by the City Hall - namely a possible disruption of traffic and concerns for the protesters' safety - were flimsy and inadequate. The march went ahead despite the ban; police had started investigating it as an illegally held event, but will now have to close the case. The City Hall's decision to ban the event was criticized by the opposition Social Democrats and the Communists.
Hygiene officers have uncovered more products contaminated with the listeria bacteria which has already killed 14 people in the Czech Republic. The bacteria has already been found in a variety of soft cheeses, salads and fish and most recently it was uncovered in bacon sold in the Litomerice region. Over 90 people have been taken ill with listeria-poisoning in the past few months and medical experts say children and elderly people are particularly vulnerable. The spread of listeria is said to be the result of poor storage conditions, enhanced by the mild weather.
The State Attorney in Ostrava has brought new charges against fugitive Czech billionaire Radovan Krejcir who stands accused of extensive fraud, the daily Pravo writes. The new charges concern illegal bank transactions made in 1997 when Mr Krejcir allegedly transferred 270 million crowns into a foreign account via a Swiss bank. Radovan Krejcir, who is suspected of extensive fraud and conspiracy to murder, fled to the Seychelles with his family in June 2005. He is being prosecuted as a fugitive.
President Vaclav Klaus has begun an official visit to Japan. On Wednesday, Mr Klaus and his wife Livia will be received by Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko. During his stay, Mr Klaus is also due to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg and a delegation of business people representing 14 Czech companies are accompanying President Klaus on his visit.
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