Czech soldiers, the main part of the 6th Rapid Deployment Brigade, have departed for Afghanistan to replace colleagues on a reconstruction team in the north-east of the country. The main part of the 91-member contingent left early Friday morning from Prague's Ruzyne airport. The soldiers, including two women, will serve for four months in the Afghan province of Fayzabad within NATO's ISAF mission. Reconstruction teams there have helped renew schools, establish health facilities, and repair damaged bridges. Czechs operating on the ground have also helped increase security in the area by cooperating with local military officials and police.
Czech football side Sparta Prague will face London's Arsenal in the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League. The draw was held on Friday. Arsenal - which include Czech star midfielder Tomas Rosicky - are considered odds-on favourites, but Sparta coach Michal Bilek said they would try as much as possible to complicate things for the London club. He said playing Arsenal in Prague would attract a lot of fans, which would be good for Czech football.
Twenty people on an Austrian bus were injured - five of them seriously -
on Friday when their vehicle went off the road and overturned on a slope
near the south Bohemian town of Rozmberk nad Vltavou. The bus driver was
reportedly trying to avoid a passing car, leading to the accident. A
police spokeswoman said that a total of 34 people, including the driver,
were aboard. The injured were taken by ambulance to a local hospital, but
one badly hurt passenger had to be taken by helicopter.
Austrian authorities have been advised, while police are searching for the other vehicle in the incident. Passengers who escaped unscathed in the accident are waiting for a replacement bus; a psychologist, together with a translator, will reportedly also be on hand.
In related news, the government spokesman for the issue of US missile defense, Tomas Klvana, has come under criticism from a civic association as well as a number of mayors of villages near the Brdy military region for - in their view - not providing enough information to the public about the radar base. They have charged that Mr Klvana was running a solely "pro-radar" campaign without addressing the possibility of negative effects on health and the environment. The radar could be deployed to the Brdy area 90 kilometres southwest of Prague if the US and the Czech Republic reach agreement. So far, polls have suggested a majority of Czechs remain against their country hosting the US base.
A Czech court sentenced three men for murder on Friday handing down extraordinary sentences from 19 to 23 years in prison. Twenty-five year old Pavel Feierfeil, twenty-six year old Jiri Salavec and twenty-seven year old Tibor Zeman were found guilty of murdering a man from Kraluv Dvur, who was apparently blackmailing them. Two of those found guilty then murdered the man's girlfriend, to prevent her from identifying them as suspects. The judge in the case said all three represented an exceptional threat to society; two of the defendants have already appealed Friday's ruling.
A former defence minister, Jiri Sedivy, set to become NATO assistant
secretary general this autumn, has said that a possible US missile defense
shield should fall under joint-command within NATO. He made the statement
about the system, with rocket and radar installations proposed in Poland
and the Czech Republic, in Friday's edition of Pravo. The statement
differed from his position earlier in the week. In Friday's interview, Mr
Sedivy said that negotiations were open, and indicated that there had to
beco-responsibility and co-participation regarding decision-making in the
project. As future NATO assistant secretary general, Jiri Sedivy will be
incharge of defence policy and planning.
Negotiations between the Czech Republic and the US on the shield have been underway since earlier this year, when US officials first asked the Czech Republic to host a radar base as part of a broader defense system in Europe.
Nuremberg's Czech international football midfielder Jan Polak on Thursday signed a four-year deal with Anderlecht, the Belgian champions announced. The 26-year old, who has 30 caps, spent two seasons in the Bundesliga where he scored four times. The financial details of the transfer were not revealed but Belgian newspapers reported that the deal was worth 3.5 million euros making it a record for the Belgian championship.
Public broadcaster Czech TV has reported that the Prague High court has struck down an earlier court ruling freeing the former director of the Bambini di Praga choir, Bohumil Kulinsky, of charges he sexually abused two underage girls under his tutelage. In addition, the court also ruled the charges should not be treated separately but added to an additional 49 complaints put forward. It is estimated the trial could start in October and last until the end of the year.
The Czech Republic has come fourth on a list of countries where British travellers need the most consular help, behind Thailand, Australia and India. The list was released by the British Foreign Office on Thursday. Between April 2005 and March 2006, 845 Brits needed consular assistance, 445 lost their passports, 36 were arrested and 52 went to hospital in the Czech Republic, mostly in Prague. A spokesperson for the Foreign Office linked the large number of accidents to the 'massive influx' of British stag and hen parties to the capital.
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