Overall sales by the Czech Republic’s largest automaker Škoda Auto have gone up, in large part due to increased demand in China and Western Europe. Sales on the domestic market dropped by 2.6 percent last year, with sales of around 56,000 vehicles, but rose worldwide largely due to Chinese and western European interest. Worldwide the automaker sold a little over 684,000 units. Škoda’s most popular model remains the Octavia, the carmaker said.
Defence Minister Martin Barták has awarded medals of honour to members of the Special Forces’ 5th contingent for their service in Afghanistan. Two soldiers were awarded the State Defence Cross, and an additional eight the Cross of Merit of the Minister of Defence of the Czech Republic. All of the soldiers present received Medals for Service Abroad. The ceremony on Friday was attended by the top military brass and also by the country’s Prime Minister Jan Fischer. The soldiers recognised served the last six months in Afghanistan, both in humanitarian missions but also helping to fight members of the Taliban.
Czech voluntary rescue workers from the Liberec-based Hand for Help organisation are to leave for quake-struck Haiti only in a couple of weeks. The head of the organisation, Jaromír Dolansky, said on Friday that they planned to build a small field hospital in the country, which was devastated by a 7.0 magnitude earthquake this week. Tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands are thought to have died in the disaster. The Czech volunteers will fly to the neighbouring Dominican Republic and then travel 300 kilometres to Port-au-Prince. Originally, it was planned the Czechs would take sniffer dogs, but given the time frame, that idea was abandoned. On Thursday, the Czech government made clear it would reach a decision on financial aid to Haiti at its session on Monday.
Sparta Prague said on Thursday they had signed former player Libor Sionko on a two-and-a-half-year contract from FC Copenhagen. Winger Sionko, who is 32, notched up nine goals in 39 appearances for the national side. He returned to his former team only a day after finishing his contract with Copenhagen.
The regional court in Plzeň has sentenced a 40-year-old homeless man to 14 years in prison for the murder of another street dweller last year. The two, both under the influence of alcohol, got into a fight outside a church in a small town in the Plzeň area. The victim, who was hit by a stone on the neck and other parts of his body, died after he went into shock.
The Supreme Administrative Court has recognised an appeal by the country’s Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting in a case involving public broadcaster Czech TV. In doing so it overruled a city court decision from last year which scrapped a 400,000 crown fine for the broadcaster. Czech TV was fined the amount by the Council for Radio and Television Broadcasting for airing - in the morning hours - a documentary that included scenes of drug abuse. Czech TV argued that the aim was one of prevention but the council concluded the scenes could have negatively impacted youngsters. The Supreme Administrative Court has not made public the reason for its decision.
Czech midfielder Jiří Jarošík has signed an 18-month contract with Spanish top-flight side Real Zaragoza it was revealed on Thursday. Capped 23 times for his country, the 32-year-old former Sparta Prague, CSKA Moscow, Chelsea, Birmingham and Celtic player had spent the last two seasons at Russian first division side Samara, where his contract has expired. Zaragoza was reportedly looking for a defensive player of his type. Jarošík, who has won titles in four leagues, turned down a three-and-a-half-year offer from Sparta.
A BBC television programme, discussing prostitution in European capitals in connection with British weekend trips and “stag parties”, has described the Czech Republic as a transit centre for trafficking in women. The documentary used a hidden camera to record a conversation with a Czech, allegedly involved in trafficking, who offered two women for 3,500 euros each a month. The filmmakers also spoke to a Slovak national involved in trafficking and a prostitute from Slovakia who said she was forced into prostitution in Amsterdam. The documentary said that Prague had 70 brothels in addition to strip clubs, noting the rise in British sex tourism and stag parties in recent years. According to the programme, those were factors contributing to prostitution and trafficking in women. Besides Prague, the documentary filmmakers also looked at the problem of prostitution in Amsterdam, Riga and Warsaw.
The high court in Olomouc is readying to hear an appeal in a legal case involving a hospital in Třebíč that accidentally swapped two baby girls at birth. The incident took place in December 2006 but the mistake was only discovered by the families many months later. The little girls were eventually returned to their biological parents. In 2009, a Czech court awarded both families a total of 3.3 million crowns in damages, but the hospital - which has admitted it was at fault – contested the amount. Prior to last year’s ruling, the facility had hoped to settle at 600,000 crowns, while the families had been asking for 12 million. The high court will begin looking into the appeal next week.
Czech goalie Tomáš Vokoun – the starter in goal for the Czech squad in Vancouver – was named the top player in an NHL game between Florida and Tampa Bay on Thursday. Vokoun, who plays for Florida, allowed two goals but stopped 28 shots, including a penalty in the 56th minute, to help Florida defeat Tampa 3:2. The winning goal was scored by another Czech player, Rostislav Olesz.
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