The Finance Ministry has launched an investigation into the purchase of new Tatra trucks by the Czech army, Lidove noviny reported. The supplier was selected directly, not through a tender, and critics say the trucks are both over-priced and fail to meet the army's requirements, the daily said. Inspectors and auditors from the Finance Ministry are investigating the CZK 2.6 billion deal signed by former defence minister Jiri Sedivy last December. At the time the government said it had selected Tatra as it was a Czech firm and provided thousands of jobs in the north Moravian region.
Slavia Prague are now six points clear at the top of the Czech football league after a 1:0 home win over second-placed Teplice on Saturday. The only goal of the biggest game of the first division's 12th round was scored by Ladislav Volasek in the 30th minute. Slavia take on Arsenal in the Champions League in Prague next Wednesday; in front of their home crowd, the Czech league leaders will be hoping to make some amends for their 7:0 away drubbing by the London club in their last Champions League outing.
A 20-year-old man has been sent to prison for 19 years for beating his girlfriend's mother to death with a hammer. His girlfriend, who is 17, got a 10-year sentence for urging him to commit the deed during an argument between the couple and the girl's mother in Chomutov, north Bohemia last December. Court experts described the girl as normal and clever, but said the man, Petr Jiskra, was unfeeling and had no compunctions about killing, a regional edition of Mlada fronta Dnes reported.
Meanwhile, the Social Democrats have called for a vote of no-confidence in the coalition government, if it does not resign. The biggest opposition party says the cabinet is in crisis following the announced resignation of Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek, who faces allegations of bribe-taking and welfare abuse.
A truck driver from the Czech Republic was left stranded for three nights in south-west England after his satellite navigation system directed him down a narrow country lane, UK newspapers reported on Friday. When driver Yuri Odenhai's 40-tonne lorry got stuck on a sharp bend his Czech-based company refused to pay for an expensive recovery operation. The vehicle was eventually towed out by a tractor after trees on the lane were trimmed. The driver spent the nights in the truck's cabin rather than pay for accommodation.
Vlastimil Tlusty, a former finance minister, has lost his only remaining position of influence in the governing Civic Democrats, after withdrawing from a vote for chairman of the party's central Bohemian branch in Kladno on Saturday. The position was won by Petr Bendl, the governor of the region. Earlier this year Mr Tlusty, overlooked for the post of finance minister in the current cabinet, went against the Civic Democrats leadership over his objections to elements of a major package of tax and welfare reforms.
The opposition Social Democrats will nominate economist Jan Svejnar for
president if he can secure support across the political spectrum. The
Social Democrats' Milan Urban said they would give him until December 8,
when the party will again discuss their candidate, to speak to the other
parties in parliament. If those talks prove successful, Mr Svejnar will
face the incumbent Vaclav Klaus in bi-cameral elections due in early
February. Senior Social Democrats say they believe the respected academic
could find some support within Mr Klaus's party the Civic Democrats.
The Greens, the smallest party in the governing coalition, said on Saturday that they would back Mr Svejnar if he runs for president.
Jan Svejnar, who is 54, is based in the United States, where he has spent most of his life. He was an economic advisor to former Czech president Vaclav Havel for almost a decade.
Cardinal Miloslav Vlk held a mass marking the 'dusicky' tradition of honouring the dead at the church of SS Petr and Pavel at Prague's Vysehrad on Friday evening. The head of the Czech Roman Catholic Church also conducted a service at the nearby Slavin, a pantheon containing the remains of some of the greatest figures in Czech cultural history. People around the Czech Republic honour departed relatives and friends every year on 'dusicky', November 2.
The Prague Municipal Court has upheld a ban by Prague City Hall on a planned march by right-wing extremists through the Prague Castle complex. The court did so by rejecting a complaint put forward by right-wing activists. The decision was taken on formal grounds: a missing signature and stamp in the complaint. The extremists originally hoped to march through the city's historic quarter on November 10th - the anniversary of the Nazi pogrom known as Kristallnacht against Jews in Germany in 1938, but reported eight possible alternative routes for their march earlier this week. All have been blocked by City Hall. The organisers have claimed their march was to protest against the Czech military presence in Iraq. Jewish organisations have protested, saying the march was a provocation and an insult.
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