The country’s civilian intelligence service will see its budget cut by around 75 million crowns in 2011 raising concerns about how this could affect its work, the daily Lidové noviny wrote on Monday. The paper says the service will have to cope with the departure of dozens of experienced agents who should have no problems finding work in the private sector. The budget cut has come under fire from the opposition Social Democrats who claim that saving money in this quarter could pose a serious threat to national security.
The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, has said he does not rule out running for the post of president. In an interview for the weekly Respekt, Mr Schwarzenberg said if the next presidential election in 2013 is in the form of a direct vote by the public he would consider standing, adding that he would require serious reasons for doing so. Mr Schwarzenberg, who turns 73 next month, served for two and a half years as chancellor to Václav Havel when he was president. He is a titled prince and is extremely wealthy. The coalition parties and the opposition Social Democrats are in favour of introducing direct presidential elections, though similar initiatives have failed in the past.
Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas said following a meeting with his Serbian counterpart Mirko Cvetkovic in Prague on Monday that the Czech Republic was ready to help Serbia prepare for accession talks with the EU. Serbia presented its accession application in December 2009, but has made slow progress first because of lukewarm cooperation with the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia which was a prerequisite for the talks to begin and later due to insufficient reforms. The Czech prime minister said Prague was ready to offer its know-how once Belgrade had fulfilled the respective criteria for accession.
Police have detained two Serbian truck drivers who were caught crossing Czech territory with a vast amount of ammunition for which they had no documents. The two truckloads of ammunition for pistols, rifles and machine guns were reportedly bound for Russia and Pakistan. The drivers had no papers for the load they were transporting or a valid transit permit to take the ammunition through the Czech Republic. The drivers were detained following a routine check at a parking lot. The matter is being investigated.
The Czech Republic has won an arbitration dispute with Canada's Frontier Petroleum Services which demanded more than one billion crowns from the state to compensate failed investment in the aircraft maker LET in 2001. The Czech Finance Ministry confirmed the news on Monday, adding that FPS would be covering all arbitration costs. The arbitration dispute with FPS started in December of 2007 when the company accused the Czech state of failing to protect its 200 million crown investment made in the form of a loan to Moravian Airplanes for the purchase of aircraft maker LET. Sometime later Moravian Airplanes went bankrupt and FPS lost the money.
The Supreme Court on Monday upheld the right of restaurants to determine their closing time. The court was dealing with a complaint from a restaurant in the town of Břeclav protesting against a regulation issued by the town hall which said all restaurants in town must close by 10 pm on workdays and by midnight at the weekend. The Supreme Court ruled that the local authorities had no right to issue such restrictions. The ruling has set an important precedent since hundreds of town halls fight similar battles on the grounds that late-night opening hours disturb the peace for those living in the close vicinity.
A small one-engine plane with a two-member French crew was forced to make an emergency landing on a busy road on the outskirts of Brno on Sunday night. The two-seat plane ran out of fuel during the flight probably due to a technical defect and was forced to land on the road almost immediately after contacting air control about the emergency. Although the police had no time to clear the road the landing was successful and miraculously the plane did not collide with any vehicles. No one was injured.
An Ostrava court on Monday invalidated October’s local elections in the town of Český Těšín after several witnesses testified they had seen people getting paid to vote for a certain party. The party in question, SOS for Český Tešín, is reported to have offered – and in some cases paid out - three hundred crowns for a vote in its favour. The party received six out of 27 mandates. The other parties in the running filed a joint complaint questioning the regularity of the elections and asking they be repeated. Last week a court in Usti heard a similar case and invalidated the result of local elections in the town of Krupka, in north Bohemia.
Czech archaeologists on Monday opened the tomb of the famous Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe at the Church of Our Lady Before Tyn near Prague’s Old Town Square. Danish scientists have requested the exhumation of the astronomer’s remains in the hope of clarifying the mysterious circumstances of his death at Emperor Rudolf’s court in 1601. They believe Brahe may have been murdered in Prague at the behest of the Danish King Christian IV. Samples of the astronomer’s hair and beard taken during a previous exhumation in 1901 revealed a high level of mercury in his remains, suggesting he may have been poisoned. If the remains are in a condition that would afford DNA samples, the casket will be transported to the anthropological depository of the National Museum for further study. The exhumation has sparked enormous media interest attracting more than 100 journalists to the Czech capital. The scientists are expected to give a news conference on Friday.
Police and rescue workers in Karviné, Moravia, spent close to an hour saving a drunk man who impaled himself on the iron fence of a nursery school. The man had clearly attempted to scale the fence but failed to make it over and was caught stuck on top with one of the railing having passed right through his thigh. Medics put rested his body on a raised platform to take the weight off as rescue workers set about cutting the fence. The man is recovering in hospital.
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