The oldest Czech to have served as a soldier in World War I, Alois Vocasek, died on Saturday at the age of 107, the website euro.cz reported on Wednesday. At the time of his death Mr Vocasek was attempting to take a case to the European Court of Human Rights, saying he was wrongfully imprisoned after World War II for collaborating with the Nazis. Alois Vocasek, who was born in 1896 near Kolin, married for the fourth time at the age of 97.
The Supreme Audit Office also gave more details on Wednesday about the misuse of almost 900 million crowns in the government's Internet for Schools project. While 90 percent of schools should have received internet access by 2002, in reality only 55 percent had, even though 85 percent of the budget had been used. On Tuesday the office said it would file a lawsuit in connection with the missing millions.
Temperature records fell across the Czech Republic on Wednesday, with the highest temperature ever recorded in Moravia - 38.2 Celsius - being reached in Breclav. The west Bohemian town of Plzen saw a new record temperature of 38.3 degrees. Prague saw an August 13 record set in 1861 broken, with a temperature of 36.8 degrees. The Czech Republic has been hit by tropical weather in recent weeks; rivers have been running very low in some parts of the country and some forest paths closed due to the danger of fires.
Union representatives and representatives from Skoda Auto in Mlada Boleslav have been meeting to discuss the future of several dozen workers whose jobs are being phased out at Skoda's Kvasiny plant. The streamlining comes in response to an overall reduction in the number of manufactured luxury sedans, known as the Skoda Superb, which the plant currently produces. While Skoda has offered its Kvasiny workers relocation to its Mlada Boleslav plant interest remains low even though the workers could lose their jobs entirely. Skoda spokesman Jaroslav Cerny said talks are likely to continue throughout the week. However, it remains unclear whether a consensus will be reached: some Kvasiny workers have complained relocation to the Boleslav plant would require living away from home, while others have expressed dissatisfaction with the offered wages.
The Atlantik financial group, which bought up debts held by the Czech Republic's largest travel agency Fischer Travel just over a week ago, has yet to reach agreement with the Allianz insurance company over insurance coverage for the travel agency's three leased passenger jets. Allianz spokesman Milan Kana made the announcement on Tuesday, saying talks would continue. Meanwhile Atlantik has declined to comment. The Allianz insurance company cancelled the travel agency's contract in late July over unpaid debts, meaning that unless a new contract is renegotiated, the Fischer agency's planes will only be allowed to fly until the end of August. The Atlantik financial group is reportedly negotiating to pay off several million crowns in debt and to have a new contract extended as of September.
The defence minister, Miroslav Kostelka, has brought three seriously ill Iraqi children to the Czech Republic for treatment. The three, aged one, ten and twelve, were taken from the minister's plane to Prague's Motol hospital as soon as they landed late on Thursday night. Another eight Iraqi children and a young woman are also due to come to this country for treatment. Minister Kostelka had been in the southern Iraqi city of Basra for a one-day visit.
The Russian Emergency Situations Ministry has said that rescuers led members of an ill-fated Czech climbing expedition to safety on Thursday after one man died on a volcano on the eastern Kamchatka Peninsula. The nineteen remaining members of the Czech group were recovering after a three-day ordeal on the Klyuchevskoi volcano. The rescuers climbed the volcano again to retrieve the body of a 44-year-old man who died after he was hit on the head by a falling rock last Monday. The Czech group was unable to move the fatally injured man and waited in thick fog for help.
President Vaclav Klaus has started sending the first letters announcing his rejection of requests for pardon, the Presidential Office press department said on Thursday. The Presidential Office has received over 400 requests for pardon, and Mr Klaus has so far settled dozens of them. Vaclav Klaus, elected president in February this year, has radically changed the method of decision-making on pardons. While his predecessor Vaclav Havel, often criticised for granting too many pardons, had consulted the Justice Ministry on them, and in some cases the Justice Ministry even decided itself, Mr Klaus says he wants to decide himself as the pardon is not a legal act correcting a court decision but a special act by the head of state.
The former Czech president Vaclav Havel has been awarded the Canada Order, the supreme Canadian distinction, as the only foreigner among 109 winners this year, Canada's Governor General Adrienne Clarkson says on her website. The information was confirmed for the CTK news agency by Mr Havel's office and the Canadian Embassy in Prague. Ms Clarkson, who is Canada's de facto Head of State representing the British Queen Elizabeth II, plans to hand over the decorations late this year.
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