Interior Minister Ivan Langer appears to have back-pedalled over the idea of introducing a civilian neighbourhood watch scheme. Its inclusion in an Interior Ministry reform plan raised eyebrows, as it reminded many Czechs of the communist era when some people were recruited to spy on their neighbours. But Mr Langer told Pravo that he had not actually proposed the idea but merely raised it as a topic for discussion. His predecessor Frantisek Bublan described the neighbourhood watch idea as a "return to a police state".
The sister of an 8-year-old boy who was severely abused by his mother has run away from a children's home in Brno. Police have been searching for the girl, who is 13, since she absconded on Thursday night. Carers said they were worried the girl, who displays signs of mental trauma, might try to take her own life. Lidove noviny reported that the authorities had no record of the girl's existence. Earlier this week the children's mother was arrested after a neighbour discovered the boy was being kept naked and bound in the dark in a storage room. The mother, who was studying to be a teacher, has been remanded in custody and could face a jail term of eight years.
Around 50 Trabant cars took part in a rally from Prihrazy to Mnichov Hradiste in central Bohemia on Friday, at the beginning of a weekend-long festival. Organisers said they expected another 70 Trabant lovers to arrive in the course of the weekend. This year's festival is the second time Czech owners of the iconic East German vehicles have held such a gathering.
The 62nd Prague Spring music festival has got underway in the Czech capital. It will feature around 50 concerts and around a dozen theatre performances between now and June 3. Around 50,000 tickets are sold during the festival, which originally grew out of celebrations marking the end of World War II. Since 1952 the Prague Spring has opened on May 12, the anniversary of the death of Bedrich Smetana, with his cycle of symphonic poems Ma vlast.
The European Women's Lobby has asked Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek for a public apology for remarks he made about gender equality. Speaking at an event launching the European Year of Equal Opportunities, he said women can freely decide whether to have children or not, which means they have the same opportunities as men. In a letter to Mr Topolanek the president of the European Women's Lobby, Kirsti Kolthoff, described his comments as shameful and degrading to women, adding that it was unacceptable for a senior representative of a European Union state to make such remarks.
Czech and American negotiators have concluded two days of talks on the possible building of a US radar base in the Czech Republic. They will resume talks at the end of May when the focus will be on the main treaty on the deployment of the radar. A Czech Defence Ministry spokesperson said negotiations would probably last for a year. An opinion poll this week suggested that 61 percent of Czechs were opposed to the US radar base, which would be part of a global anti missile defence system.
A 14-year-old boy is in a critical condition in hospital after the metal backboard of a basketball hoop fell on him at a school in Kravare, north Bohemia. The newspaper Denik reported that the boy sustained serious injuries after the construction fell on his head. He was flown to hospital in Liberec after the accident occurred on Friday.
Firefighters were called out three times more often than usual on Friday as winds of up to 140 kilometres an hour hit many parts of the Czech Republic. A 71-year-old woman was killed in Dvur Kralove when she was hit by a falling tree in a wooded area. Two people were injured by falling trees in the Karlovy Vary region.
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