Police have charged two men in connection with the kidnapping of Giuseppe Roselli, chairman of the board of directors of the Union Group, which controls some 75% of the troubled small lender Union Banka. The kidnapping, which took place one week ago, saw Mr Roselli and his personal bodyguard held for 24 hours, before being released unharmed. Police so far are revealing no further details as to possible motives for the kidnapping, though Mr Roselli's spokesman has indicated that the banker had been forced to sign a number of documents for alleged misuse.
Thirty water treatment devices, aimed at helping to secure safe drinking water for Iraqi citizens in Basra, southern Iraq, will be sent by the Czech Republic as part of planned humanitarian aid. Czech parliament is to decide this week on whether it will send its 7th field hospital to the region. Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik said on Monday that the water treatment technology would be sent in lieu of one hundred Czech special forces soldiers previously intended for the mission. Mr Tvrdik said that necessary defence support for the field hospital would be provided by military police.
The Czech government has refined its set of tasks ahead in the continuing war on terrorism, government spokeswoman Anna Starkova has revealed. On Monday the government agreed to place greater emphasis on protecting information systems, optimising communication between intelligence services, and improving co-operation with international anti-terrorism experts.
Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, Foreign Affairs Minister Cyril Svoboda, and Czech President Vaclav Klaus will sign the EU accession treaty on behalf of the Czech Republic on Wednesday, at the EU Summit in Athens. Mr Klaus expressed his desire to sign the document, although originally the third signatory was meant to be the Czech Republic's former chief negotiator to the EU, Pavel Telicka. The Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda expressed satisfaction on Monday over the Czech president's decision. It remains unclear whether any of the presidents from the other nine EU candidate countries will be signing their countries' respective treaties.
Rescuers have recovered the body of a two-and-a-half year old boy who went missing on Thursday in the village of Borovnice, North-Eastern Bohemia. The body lay in a snow-covered field about six kilometres away from his home. Hundreds of volunteers assisted by a police helicopter with thermo-vision were searching for four days the local forestland and hillsides for the boy who often rambled with his dog.
Czech Ombudsman Otakar Motejl has warned against the introduction of a direct presidential election in the Czech Republic. Mr Motejl cited potential dangers of a public vote, including manipulation with public opinion. Under the current law, Czech presidents are elected at a joint session of both houses of parliament. However, a bill on direct presidential election was approved by the lower house in the first reading earlier this week and politicians across the political spectrum suggested that the next president will be elected in a direct election after Vaclav Klaus's term expires in 2005.
The popular Czech novelist Zdenek Jirotka died at the age of 92 early on Saturday. Jirotka was an excellent storyteller, author of several comic novels, short stories, TV and radio plays. He was best known for his satiric novel Saturnin set in the 1920s, telling the stories of a young upper class man and his servant who never ceases to surprise his master with original solutions to everyday problems.
Police in the town of Boskovice, central Moravia, reported another suicide attempt by self-immolation on Saturday. A drunken man poured diesel over himself at a petrol station and tried to set himself alight. However, having mistaken slow-burning diesel for petrol, his attempt failed. The police said the man wanted to commit suicide because his wife wanted to divorce him. Since the beginning of March, six people in the Czech Republic have committed suicide by burning themselves to death. Psychologists around the country have condemned the series of self-immolations, warning that they can dangerously influence depressed people.
Foreign Minister and the leader of the junior coalition Christian Democrats Cyril Svoboda said his party would push its leftist coalition partners to agree to public spending cuts to speed up the adoption of the euro currency. Svoboda said his party would urge the government to approve major fiscal reforms aimed at joining the euro between 2007 and 2009. This is a more ambitious target than has been proposed by the ruling Social Democrats who have largely spoken against radical spending cuts, especially in social welfare, and favoured the period between 2009-2011 as possible target dates for euro zone entry.
Officials in the emerging local government in Basra, Iraq, have sent a letter to Czech Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla, asking the Czech Republic for humanitarian aid. Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik confirmed the request for help on Friday, meant to aid some of the 4 million people in and around Basra in southern Iraq. The Czech government is currently counting on sending the Czech Republic's 7th field hospital to the region, although parliament has yet to approve the mission. The military has already ordered transportation for hospital personnel, including doctors and engineers and protective combat troops, to take place April 18th. In a telephone interview on Friday the Czech ambassador in Kuwait, Jana Hybaskova, indicated it was clear the field hospital unit would be set-up in Basra, while a local Iraqi stressed on Friday that what the region needed most now was drinking water and medicine.
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