President Vaclav Klaus has granted a pardon to a man who was sentenced in 2005 for accidentally causing a fire at a disco in Ostrava by setting off fireworks. A 17-year-old girl died in the blaze and several dozen people were injured. The man, Alexander Bosnay, had the remainder of his three-year jail sentence pardoned on condition he does not commit an intentional criminal offence in the next two years. A spokesman said President Klaus took into consideration the fact that the family of the victim as well as those injured in the accident had pleaded on Mr Bosnay's behalf.
The Czech Republic has filed a suit with the European Union's Court of First Instance in Luxembourg against a decision by the European Commission to impose a 12.3 million euro fine on the Czech Republic for alleged excessive stockpiles of agricultural commodities and food ahead of EU entry. Neighbouring Slovakia contested the European Commission fine for its pre-2004 stockpiles last week. Regardless of the lawsuit, the Czech Republic must pay a proportion of the penalty by the end of July. Besides the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the EC also fined Estonia, Latvia, Cyprus, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovenia for alleged excessive food stockpiles.
Two girls aged 10 and 14 were killed and their father suffered severe burns on Tuesday in a traffic accident near the town of Mlada Boleslav. Police say the car skidded into a ditch where it caught fire. On Monday, eight people were killed in road accidents around the Czech Republic. The most tragic day this year remains June 8th when 11 people died on Czech roads.
Clean-up operations at poultry farms affected by bird flu outbreaks in east Bohemia will take longer than expected, fire fighters in the Pardubice region said on Tuesday. The works will probably last until the end of July although previously the cull and disposal of birds in the afflicted areas were expected to be completed by Thursday. In all, some 200,000 turkeys, broilers and laying hens have been slaughtered at the poultry farms in Tisova, Norin, Chocen, Netreby, Zarecka Lhota and Loucky that were hit by the H5N1 bird flu virus strain. In addition, some 1,900 birds from small private flocks have been culled on the orders of vets. The first outbreak of bird flu was reported by vets on a turkey farm at Tisova on June 20. One week later, the virus was found on a broiler farm in Norin, four kilometres from Tisova. Other cases of the emergence of H5N1 strain were confirmed at poultry farms in Netreby and near Kosorin on July 11.
Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas is considering introducing incentives for companies to motivate them to allow the parents of young children to work part time. Such companies' health and social insurance payments could be decreased by three or four percent, Mr Necas said, adding that similar advantages would be granted to the companies that employ people over 55 and people with disabilities. According to Mr Necas, the proportion of part-time work contracts in the Czech Republic is extremely low - only about five percent of employees work reduced hours.
An advisory body to the Czech Government Council for Human Rights has proposed financial compensation of up to 200,000 crowns (almost 10,000 USD) for the victims of forced sterilisation, mainly Romany women, in the country, the daily Lidove noviny reports on Tuesday. The Government Council is to debate the proposal in September, the paper adds. The Council's advisory body, the Committee for Biomedicine and Human Rights, has worked out a plan of compensating the women and at least one man who were sterilised without their consent in the past. The paper writes that the possible compensation would apply to cases of forced sterilisation performed between 1966 and 1991.
One hundred and sixteen years ago, on July 18th, 1891, the first electric tram was introduced in Prague, to gradually replace horse-drawn trams that had been in service for 15 years then. The first tram line, only 800 metres long, connected Prague's Stromovka and Letna parks and was discontinued in 1900. By that time tram lines had connected the districts of Liben, Vysocany and Vinohrady and became the backbone of Prague's public transport. Currently, 1000 tram carriages are operated on 35 lines and 560 kilometres around Prague. Trams in Prague carry some 350 million passengers every year.
An organisation helping the victims of domestic violence says that around 15 percent of women who were subjected to domestic violence and physical abuse, experienced it during pregnancy. The organisation Rosa carried out a survey among 200 of its clients last year which suggests that most of the victims who were abused during pregnancy experienced physical violence, including severe beating and kicking, in the later months of pregnancy. A study by the STEM polling agency suggests 23 percent of Czechs have come into contact with domestic violence as either victims, perpetrators or witnesses. Thirteen percent of Czechs have at some point been the victims of domestic violence.
The government of Mirek Topolanek will spend 25 million crowns (1.2 million USD) on an information campaign ahead of the Czech Republic's entry into Europe's border-free Schengen area by the end of this year. Interior Minister Ivan Langer told journalists the campaign will also inform foreigners about the fact that all barriers to free movement will be abolished as of January 1, 2008. A recent opinion poll suggests 51 percent of Czechs have some knowledge of the Schengen area. Most of them consider it a positive result of the Czech Republic's EU entry in 2004. People are most afraid of higher security risks and illegal immigration as possible results of the opening of the border.
Temperature records have been broken for the third day in a row in the Czech Republic. In the Vysocina region, temperatures reached a record 36.3 degrees Celsius. In Prague's Klementinum library meteorologists measured 34.1 degrees Celsius, by 0.1 degree more than a record set in 1976. Tropical temperatures of around 34 degrees Celsius are expected in Moravia also on Wednesday but the west of the country should have slightly cooler weather with 27 to 31 degrees. Meteorologists have warned of increased ground ozone levels across the country.
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