A court in the Austrian capital Vienna has begun hearing the case of the Czech Culture Ministry which demands a Viennese antiquarian to return a precious Gothic sculpture to the Czech Republic. The 15th century statue of the Madonna and Child was stolen ten years ago from a church in the village of Cholina in Moravia and police found it last year in an antique shop in Vienna. The Viennese antiquarian is demanding financial compensation.
A national convention of the Green Party is underway in Prague this weekend. It is the party's first national congress since the Greens took seats in the lower house last year. The leadership of the party announced it would step down and ask for re-election after a left-wing faction within the party expressed disagreement with the Greens taking part in the centre-right coalition government along with the Civic and Christian Democrats.
The Prague Castle management expects the Roman Catholic Church to hand over St Vitus Cathedral in the near future. Following Friday's ruling of the Supreme Court which overturned previous court decisions that returned the cathedral to the Roman Catholic Church, a spokesman for the President's office, Petr Hajek, said he does not expect any difficulties concerning the transfer. The cathedral has been managed by the Catholic Church since last June. Friday's decision by the Supreme Court criticised the earlier rulings on legal grounds, and returned the case to the district level. Legal disputes between the Czech state and the Roman Catholic Church over ownership rights to St Vitus cathedral have been going on for 13 years.
General practitioners in the Zlin region say they will go on strike once again on March 28 in protest of a decision by the state-run health insurer VZP's which has refused to increase payments to doctors. The majority of GPs and paediatricians in three regions of Moravia went on a one-day strike this Wednesday for the same reason. Some doctors in Bohemia joined them in a symbolic protest.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus who will mark four years in office at the end of February stands a strong chance of being re-elected for a second term, analysts told the CTK news agency. Mr Klaus has indicated several times he plans to seek re-election next year. Political analysts hesitate to predict the names of other potential candidates. Polls have repeatedly shown that President Klaus enjoys strong public support.
Saturday's Lidove noviny writes that Social Democrat chairman Jiri Paroubek has sent a letter to lawyer Zdenek Altner offering him an out-of-court settlement in the case of the party's alleged large debt to the lawyer. According to the paper, the lawyer is willing to negotiate a settlement on condition the party pays him 176 million crowns (over 8 million USD) by Monday. The Social Democrats hired Mr Altner in a legal dispute over their Prague headquarters in the 1990s. He now says the party owes him 18 billion crowns (or 850 million US dollars) for his services. The amount demanded includes interest and sanctions.
Demolition work is in progress on the Travnik building in the town of Prerov despite efforts by the local town hall and the Culture Ministry to save it. The Culture Ministry intended to put the early 20th century building back on the list of cultural monuments after having removed it six months ago. In the meantime, however, a local construction company had begun demolition works despite protests from architectural experts and the Culture Ministry. A commercial centre is to be built in its place.
An express train bound for Warsaw derailed between Prague's Main Railway Station and Liben Station on Saturday morning. The engine and five carriages came off the rails but no injuries have been reported. The accident seriously disturbed railway traffic in the Czech Republic on Saturday as it affected one of the busiest railway routes in the country.
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