Police have arrested two men who are believed to have stolen an early version of the latest project by Slovak film director Juraj Jakubisko. The director, who lives in the Czech Republic, says the men threatened to illegally distribute his latest film if he failed to pay them half a million crowns. The premiere of the thriller about the 16th-century Hungarian serial killer Elizabeth Bathory is scheduled for this autumn.
The US Lieutenant General Henry Obering, director of the Missile
Defense Agency, has said the United States is open to European demands
that a missile shield system it plans to deploy in Poland and the Czech
Republic be brought under NATO. Mr Obering said on Thursday he would
not be averse to the shield being integrated into NATO's defensive
The United States says the missile shield is meant to protect Europe and US forces there from missiles fired by what Washington calls "rogue states", such as Iran and North Korea. Senior European officials, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel and NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, have called for the missile defence issue to be debated within the Alliance rather than on a bilateral basis.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek says he will not seek the dismissal of his deputy Jiri Cunek in the coming days. Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek who is also Minister for Regional Development is facing corruption charges. Prime Minister Topolanek said earlier this week that mounting public pressure is likely to eventually force Mr Cunek to leave the cabinet.
The Interior Ministry's inspectorate says it suspects eleven traffic police officers from the town of Kladno of abuse of office and accepting bribes. All of them are going to be sacked from the police force, according to the Kladno police director. A spokeswoman did not specify how long they had been allegedly breaking the law and how much money was involved.
The state attorney in the Moravian town of Prerov says privacy had been secured for Wednesday's scheduled police interrogation of Deputy Prime Minister and Christian Democrat leader Jiri Cunek, who is facing charges of corruption. Mr Cunek had asked for the interrogation to be rescheduled as the media had found out about the date. Mr Cunek is accused of having accepted a bribe five years ago when he was mayor of the Moravian town of Vsetin.
The Belgium-based supermarket chain Delhaize said on Thursday that net profit fell by 3.6 percent in 2006 due to its struggling Czech business, which the company has put up for sale. Delhaize, which has big US operations, reported a 2006 net profit on 351.9 million euros (464.7 million dollars), down from 365.2 million euros one year earlier. The company announced last November it was pulling out of the Czech Republic and putting up its 97 Delvita stores for sale, which would allow it to focus on higher opportunity markets.
Czech Police Chief Vladislav Husak is under investigation for having
allegedly warned a prime suspect in one of the country's biggest
corruption cases, the so-called "bio-fuel" case, ahead of an
investigation. The Mlada fronta Dnes newspaper reports that the secret
police have records of Mr Husak holding a long telephone conversation
with the adviser to the former Prime Minister Milos Zeman, Miroslav
Slouf. The conversation took place just after Mr Husak was informed by
the anti-corruption unit that an operation would be launched. Mr Slouf
then allegedly warned the prime suspect in the case. Mr Husak has not
commented on the reports.
In response to the latest allegations, former Social Democrat Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said on Thursday Mr Husak's contacts with Miroslav Slouf were not related to the bio-fuel corruption case. Several lobbyists and Social Democrat public officials were arrested last spring in connection with the "bio-fuel" case. They are believed to have offered or accepted bribes to influence the outcome of public tenders in the area of bio-fuel production.
Deputy PM and Regional Development Minister Jiri Cunek was interrogated for several hours by the anti-corruption police on Thursday in the Moravian town of Olomouc. He told the CTK news agency that he felt "quite good" after the questioning. Mr Cunek reiterated he was not going to step down over his corruption charges.
In fifty percent of cases when a patient is prescribed an antibiotic in the Czech Republic, it is unnecessary, the head physician of the antibiotics department at Prague's Na Homolce hospital, Vlastimil Jindrak, warned on Wednesday. The exaggerated use of antibiotics leads to bacteria becoming immune to the drugs. This could result in an epidemic. Czech doctors would also save money if they used other forms of treatment, as health insurers currently spend some three billion crowns on antibiotics a year.
The opposition Social Democrats have criticised government plans to sell seven percent of the state's stake in the power giant CEZ. The shares, currently worth some 35.7 billion crowns (an estimated 1.6 billion US dollars), are to be offered on the stock market later this year. The daily Hospodarske Noviny reports that the revenue is to be used for the construction of roads and motorways. Social Democrat MP and former Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban has opposed the plan. He views it as irresponsible to sell off part of CEZ just for the purpose of what he considers "darning a hole" in state finances.
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