Czech tennis player Radek Stepanek toppled second-seeded American James Blake 7-6 (9/7), 5-7, 6-2 on Sunday to capture his second career ATP title in the final of the 525,000-dollar Countrywide Classic. Ranked 101st in the world, Stepanek converted two service breaks in the deciding set to claim the victory over the world number nine. It was the Czech's second win in five career meetings against Blake, who had won the previous three encounters - all on North American hardcourts. Stepanek had attained a career-high world ranking of No. 8 in July 2006 before suffering a back injury that sidelined him for the final third of the year.
A report published by the Supreme State Attorney's office says that the crime rate among youth under 15 years of age dropped by ten percent last year compared to 2005. The number of crimes committed by children was the lowest since 1989. The Supreme State Attorney's office says it therefore disagrees with the lowering of the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 14 years. Police say children committed around 3,000 criminal offences last year.
In related news: the state attorney in charge of the case of six top executives of the collapsed Czech IPB bank who, according to the police, tried to dispose of four bad loans worth 9 billion crowns, has halted their prosecution as their actions do not qualify as a criminal offence. According to the police, the six accused managers tried to rid the bank of four bad loans in 1998 and 1999. Police believe that the managers lent nine billion crowns to other companies but the money never returned to the bank. Police had proposed to charge the IPB executives with mismanagement of other persons' property and insider dealing. They all faced up to eight years in prison.
A poll by the Ipsos Tambor agency suggests 72 percent of Czechs are satisfied with the police's performance, while 22 percent find it unsatisfactory. Eighty-five percent of those polled said they trusted the police and 44 percent believe police lacks sufficient equipment. The survey was carried out between February and May this year and involved around 14,000 respondents.
Police say more people have died on Czech roads in the first three weeks of this month than in the whole of July a year ago. Eighty-nine people were reported killed in road accidents between July 1st and 22nd this year, with 32 people dying last week alone. Another 100 people were seriously injured in the course of last week in the 3,700 accidents reported. Among those killed was Czech jazz singer Pavla Kapitanova who died on Sunday in a crash involving two passenger cars and a van on the D8 motorway connecting Prague and north Bohemia.
The Czech Finance Ministry has filed a lawsuit with a Paris-based arbitration court against the Czech bank CSOB. The ministry said in a statement on Monday it is seeking nearly 27 billion crowns (1.3 billion USD) in compensation in connection with the clearance of IPB bank which CSOB took over in June 2000. The Czech IPB bank was one of the country's largest financial institutions in the 1990s. In June 2000 the bank - part owned by Japan's Nomura - was placed under forced administration and later sold off to CSOB bank.
Czech international David Lafata is likely to miss their Euro 2008 Group D qualification ties against San-Marino and Ireland in September after suffering a torn back muscle, the CTK news agency reported on Monday. The 25-year-old striker, who plays for Austria Vienna, had to be replaced after just 17 minutes during his club's Austrian League match against Salzburg on Sunday. Lafata is expected to be on the sidelines for six weeks leaving his participation in the September 8 and 12 European qualifiers in doubt. The Czech Republic are second in Group D five points behind leaders Germany and just one point ahead of Ireland in third.
The Czech Environment Inspection has imposed a fine worth almost 7 million crowns on the company MTR Kladno, one of the major organisers of illegal waste imports from Germany. The German-owned company in cooperation with the Guenter Oertel company allegedly brought a total of 15,500 tonnes of waste to various sites in the Czech Republic over the last few years. The fine is the second largest sanction the Czech Environment Inspection has imposed on a waste importer. The highest fine, ten million crowns, was given to the Bau24 company.
New statistics released by the Czech Social Security Administration show that women's old-age pensions are on average about one-fifth lower than men's in the Czech Republic. Men's average monthly old-age pension was 9,157 crowns (450 US dollars) at the end of last year, while women's average pension was 1,726 crowns lower. In 2001, the difference was 17.4 percent, last year it came close to 19 percent. Czech women earn an average one quarter less than men as most of them work in professions with lower wages. Equal rights experts say that women in the same positions and doing the same work as men often receive less money than men, a fact later reflected in their pensions.