The People in Need charity said its most experienced aid coordinator should arrive in earthquake-hit Haiti on Sunday. The charity is working there in partnership with the Irish charity Concern. In a statement released on Sunday, People in Need warned of the threat of increasing unrest in the stricken Caribbean country. An appeal for donations by the Czech charity has so far raised around 6.0 million crowns. It already released 2.6 million crowns aimed at providing medicine, food and water to victims. The Adra charity said it had collected 3.0 million crowns and an appeal by the Catholic Church in Olomouc raised 2.5 million crowns by Friday.
The leader of the main centre-right party, the Civic Democrats, and former prime minister Mirek Topolánek said in a television discussion on Sunday that a coalition with its main rival, the left-wing Social Democrats, was a possibility after elections to the lower house of parliament in May. He said however that this would be an emergency step that he did not want. Mr Topolánek said such as step would have to be taken by different leaders to those currently in place. He repeated his pledge to stand down as party leader if he lost the upcoming elections.
Media reports suggest that police have solved who was behind the kidnapping of a lawyer found tied in the boot of a car after an accident in Prague. An invalid pensioner and his son apparently planned the kidnapping in order to stop their house been taken from them because of debts. They were aided by two other men. Police made the bizarre discovery of the bound lawyer on Tuesday. The suspects could face up to eight years in prison for kidnapping.
Czech ice hockey star Patrik Eliáš is undergoing further tests after he had to be stretchered from Saturday’s National Hockey League game for the New Jersey Devils. Eliáš remained on the ice for around five minutes after a hard hit in the second period and was apparently temporarily unconscious. A hospital examination showed no serious injury but the Devils’ manager said further tests would be carried out with the likelihood that Eliáš will have to take a pause from the sport. Eliáš was named captain of the Czech team to compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics in Vancouver at the end of last year.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout said on Sunday that Czech aid for
earthquake struck Haiti should be long term. He said aid should continue to
flow in the coming weeks, months and years once the media images have
disappeared. The government is due to meet Monday to discuss a further 10
million crowns in emergency aid from the Foreign Ministry emergencies
budget. So far the ministry has released 5 million crowns in emergency aid
aimed at restoring supplies of drinking water.
Minister of Defence Martin Barták said it was prepared to send Czech field hospitals and specialists and even military police to help keep order in the country if necessary. Media reports have said heavily armed gangs have returned to the capital Port-au-Prince. Mr Barták said discussions with aid coordinators are continuing over what other aid could be sent.
Local estimates say that up to 200,000 people died and up to 300,000 have been left homeless by the quake at the start of the week.
Czech ambassador in Ukraine, Jaroslav Bašta, will be relieved of his position on health grounds, Foreign Minister Jan Kohout confirmed on Sunday. The ambassador had made the request to leave after three years in Kiev and four in Moscow. Mr Bašta was accused in the Czech press of being involved in a scandal over the hand out of visas in the non-EU country. Part of the scandal concerned the choice of a private company to help with the visa process at the Lvov consulate. Mr Bašta denied any guilt.
Fresh snowfalls and high winds have created problems across the country on Sunday. Up to 4.0 centimetres of snow fell overnight with up to 10 centimetres more expected during the day. The situation has been complicated by winds of up to 130 kilometres an hour which has led to snow drifts in some parts. One of the worst affected regions is Vysočina where some smaller roads are impassable. The state forestry company has also banned visitors to forests in some localities because of the danger of falling trees.
Czech cyclo cross competitor Kateřina Hanušová-Nashova has become the first Czech woman to win a World Cup event. The former cross country skier took the title at Roubaix, northern France, on Sunday. Second place went to four times world champion, Germany’s Hanka Kuperfernagel. The win makes Hanušová-Nashova one of the favourites for the world title event at Táboř in a fortnight. Czech Zdeněk Štybar won the men’s competition at Roubaix.
The former head of the department of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office dealing with the most serious cases of economic and financial crime has apparently committed suicide, Czech Television reported on Sunday. Milan Horváth appears to have jumped to his death from the roof of a Brno hotel on Thursday. Police have not confirmed the identity of a dead man found at the hotel. Mr Horváth was dismissed from his top job in the prosecutor’s office in 2007 after losing papers in a briefcase concerning a high profile criminal investigation. He was recently involved in a road accident under the influence of alcohol and stripped from his position as a state prosecutor.
The caretaker government of Prime Jan Fischer is putting the finishing touches to plans aimed at curbing the country’s ballooning budget deficit. The so-called exit strategy includes the possibility of a higher 25% tax bracket for bigger earners, ending aid for home buyers and changes to index-linked increases in social payments. The target is to almost halve the current state deficit to under 3.0 percent of Gross Domestic Product by 2013. That is the level need for adoption of the euro. Prime Minister Fischer has said the measures, to be discussed next week with industrial leaders and unions, could plot the course for the next government following May elections.
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