The Czech governing coalition has agreed on a joint stand on the European Constitution. Its position is outlined in a five-point declaration which was approved on Thursday. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told reporters the new text of the constitution could be based on the current document but needed to be more comprehensive and transparent. The Czech Republic halted its part in the ratification process of the EU constitution after it was rejected by France and the Netherlands in referenda in 2005.
The Czech internet site aktualne.cz has reported that Czech police have decided to shelve their investigation into the allegedly planned murder of officer Jan Kubice, the head of the country's unit investigating organised crime. A number of individuals including a former chief of staff to two prime ministers were suspected of ties to the case. Aktualne.cz has reported that a plan to kill Mr Kubice was hatched after he presented a classified report in Parliament last May investigating links between organised crime and the civil service. According to the server, police have not found enough evidence to make progress in the case.
Czech Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil has revealed that the Czech Republic and the Seychelles signed a draft extradition treaty on Friday. If approved, the agreement could affect the fortunes, for example, of fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir, wanted by authorities in the Czech Republic. The Czech-born businessman, who holds Seychelles citizenship, fled during a police search of his home near Prague in 2005, avoiding prosecution for suspected criminal activities including, allegedly, the planned murder of a customs official. If approved, the draft treaty signed on Friday will apply to citizens of both the Czech Republic and the Seychelles, but will also allow for extradition requests to be turned down.
Czech federation officials confirmed Friday that international football goalkeeper Petr Cech has been authorised by UEFA to wear headguard protection in the European Championship qualifiers. The keeper has already played a number of games for his club Chelsea in the English Premiership, wearing the headguard, which is manufactured in New Zealand. Petr Cech spent three months sidelined from competition after fracturing his skull in a collision during a match against Reading in October. The Czech Republic's next European qualifier match will be on March 24th against group D leaders Germany.
In a newly-issued report the Czech Helsinki committee has stated that discrimination against women on the Czech labour market has not yet been quashed. According to the report, published on the group's website, many employers continue to discriminate against women. Often candidates for new jobs are asked inadmissible personal questions about, for example, plans to have children and take maternity leave. Another example cited is the case of mothers losing jobs during their trial periods because they are unable to work overtime, having young children to care for at home.
Sweden's chief prosecutor has said that his country's judiciary will decide in the coming weeks whether or not to launch an investigation into corruption allegations concerning the proposed sale of Gripen fighter jets to the Czech military. Swedish Television reported this week that the business deal, which originally offered 24 jets by the British-Swedish consortium BAE Systems/Saab to the Czech Republic in 2002, was accompanied by wide-spread corruption. Later, the deal was scrapped in favour of the Czech Republic leasing 14 jets. In the Czech Republic, a number of former government officials have said they did not register corruption in connection with the original dealings.
A Russian passenger who threatened to blow up an Aeroflot plane, forcing an emergency landing in Prague last December, has been released on a one million crown bail. He may now be extradited to Russia. Jevgenij Dogajev was arrested at Prague's Ruzyne Airport on December 28th, shortly after his flight bound from Moscow to Geneva made an emergency landing in the Czech capital. The man, who has admitted to being heavily inebriated at the time, demanded entry into the pilot's cabin and threatened to blow up the aircraft. He was quickly overpowered by fellow passengers. Mr Dogajev's lawyer says his client was so drunk during the incident he had no idea what he was saying.
A Czech daily has reported that the head of public broadcaster Czech TV, Jiri Janecek, was a member of Czechoslovakia's Communist Party. Friday's Lidove Noviny writes that Mr Janecek joined in August 1981. Mr Janecek, who became director of Czech TV in 2003, said that he terminated his membership when the communist regime in Czechoslovakia collapsed in 1989. Czech TV Council members had reportedly not been told of Mr Janecek's past membership. Earlier in the week the council dealt with the case of Frantisek Lambert, until now financial and programming director for the broadcaster, who is a former member of the People's Militia. For the time being he has been allowed to stay on as financial director.
The Czech ambassador to Moscow Miroslav Kostelka has said that even if plans for a US radar base on Czech territory get approval it will not be enough to disrupt future progress in Czech-Russian relations. He said as much on Friday in an interview for CTK, the Czech news agency. In the interview, the ambassador stressed that statements made by a Russian military official this week were "unacceptable", reflecting on the fact that Russia has been very critical of the US plans and has threatened to aim missiles at the sites in both Poland and the Czech Republic if the defence installations are built. Both Poland and the Czech Republic have already indicated a willingness to begin talks with the US.
Czech football defender Zdenek Grygera has signed a five-year contract with Italy's Juventus Turin. The 26-year-old player's contract will take effect a day after his current deal with Ajax Amsterdam runs out on July 1st. Grygera, a regular on the Czech national squad, will not be the only Czech on the team. Juventus is also home to star midfielder Pavel Nedved.
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