The trial of Vladimir Zelezny began at Prague City Court on Monday. Mr Zelezny, who is now a member of the European Parliament, faces charges of harming a creditor, the company CME which owns TV Nova, of which Mr Zelezny was general director. He himself failed to appear, saying he had to attend a session of the European Parliament. Three of Mr Zelezny's lawyers are also on trial.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said it is untenable for Jiri Cunek to
remain in the government. Mr Topolanek told the daily Hospodarske noviny
that an investigation into alleged bribe-taking by Mr Cunek was damaging
the whole government. The prime minister said he would offer to reinstate
Mr Cunek in the posts of deputy prime minister and regional development
minister if he proved his innocence.
On Tuesday the two men are due to discuss the situation with the leader of the third party in the coalition, the Greens.
The manufacture of bicycles in the Czech Republic is on the rise after several years of decline, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. While in 2002 50,000 bicycles were made in this country, last year six times as many were produced. The paper said the upturn had followed the introduction of a European Union customs levy aimed at protecting EU firms from cheap imports from Asia.
Former Social Democrat health minister David Rath has been cleared of falsely accusing Civic Democrat MEP Miroslav Ouzky of asset-stripping the VZP public health insurer. Mr Ouzky had been seeking half a million crowns in damages and an apology from Mr Rath. He said he would appeal the verdict. Previously Mr Rath had lost a similar case taken by Milan Cabrnoch, also an MEP and a former business partner of Mr Ouzky's. Mr Rath has appealed that verdict.
The Czech football squad have been fined a million CZK (almost 50,000 USD) for rowdily celebrating the birthday of player Tomas Ujfalusi after a game on Saturday. Team captain Tomas Rosicky said the fine had been deserved and admitted the players had been drinking. However, tabloid allegations that there had been prostitutes in the players' rooms have been denied. The Czech manager Karel Bruckner said he had considered resigning over the incident.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel and the speaker of the British House of Commons, Michael Martin, unveiled a monument to the 17th-century Czech artist Vaclav Hollar in London on Monday. Known in the UK as Wenceslas Hollar or Wenzel, the renowned etcher moved to the city after his family were ruined during the Thirty Years' War. Mr Havel said Hollar linked Prague and London, adding that he found it interesting to compare today's London with that portrayed by the artist.
Czech farmers held a protest at a border crossing with Austria on Monday against the import of Austrian pork. Around 200 farmers took part in the demonstration, which lasted from around 11 am to noon. They say pig farming in the Czech Republic is under serious threat as supermarket chains buy meat from abroad, driving down prices in this country.
Meanwhile, the governing coalition has agreed to introduce a flat 15-percent income tax rate from the start of next year. Prime Minister Topolanek told Hospodarske noviny that it and other changes to the tax system would benefit all Czechs, though he did concede that the middle classes would save the least. His government is set to present an entire package of tax and social welfare reforms next week.
President Vaclav Klaus attended a ceremony during an EU summit in the
German capital on Saturday evening for the ratification of the
so-called "Declaration of Berlin." The declaration is intended to mark
the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome - the document that
paved the way for the establishment of the European Union.
Speaking in Berlin, President Klaus said that European integration had brought many benefits and he would not be opposing the declaration. Nevertheless, he did warn that the EU should not evolve in the wrong direction. Shortly before the summit Mr Klaus had criticised the "secretive" way in which the text of the document had been prepared, saying it was a "classic example of the democratic deficit" that existed in the EU. After reservations were expressed by the Czech Republic, Britain and Poland the declaration itself makes no specific reference to divisive issues like the Union's future enlargement or the EU constitution, but instead emphasises the idea of European unity.
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