President Vaclav Klaus has signed the law giving the Interior and Defence Ministries the right to trade directly in military materials without an intermediary, the presidential office said on Thursday. The new law on the trade in military equipment, as well as other related laws, will make it possible to conclude the contract for the proposed lease of 14 Jas-39 Gripen supersonic fighter jets between the Czech and Swedish defence ministries without needing a Czech firm to serve as intermediary. On Wednesday, the government postponed discussion of the drafts of contracts related to the Gripen lease for a week. A Defence Ministry spokesman said that if the government concludes its discussion successfully next week, the contract with Sweden could be signed within three to five days.
The Czech mobile phone operator Cesky Mobil has filed a lawsuit against its two rivals, Eurotel and T-Mobile, asking 1.6 billion crowns in compensation for damage linked to different prices they charged. Cesky Mobil said the other two operators charged lower prices for calls to their networks and higher prices for calls to the Cesky Mobil network. A Cesky Mobil spokesman said the lawsuit followed a decision made by the anti-monopoly office in 2002, when Eurotel and T-Mobile were fined a total of 63 million crowns for price differences. Czech mobile operators now have 9.9 million clients together. The Czech population is 10.2 million.
According to a law signed on Thursday by President Vaclav Klaus, the gross salary of each of the 24 Czech European Parliament members will be 65,000 crowns (around 2,000 euros). The salary of the MEPs, whom the Czech voters will elect on June 11-12, is 18,500 crowns higher than that of their counterparts in the Czech Parliament and almost four times higher than the average monthly salary in the Czech Republic. There are significant differences between the salaries of Euro-MPs from individual countries. At the moment, the best paid are the Italians with 11,780 euros, and the worst paid are Spanish MEPs with 2,540 euros.
The Justice Ministry has been ordered by a Prague court to pay 200,000 crowns in compensation to a man who was wrongfully remanded in custody. Radovan Krejcir, who is being investigated for evading customs duties of half a billion crowns, was held for six months, though for half of that time no justification had been given for remanding him.
The number of passengers going through Prague's Ruzyne airport increased by 23 percent in 2003 and is expected to reach a record 9.2 million this year, the head of the Czech Airport Authority said on Wednesday. A new terminal which should be completed by 2006 will allow the airport to clear 10 million passengers a year, or up to 15 million if it is further extended.
Weather forecasters have warned that heavy rains on Thursday may cause rivers in many parts of the country to rise dangerously high. Downpours on Tuesday evening led to the flooding of cellars around Pilsen and Olomouc. Meanwhile, reports that this June will be relatively cool may lead many Czechs to holiday abroad rather than staying at home, an expert told the CTK news agency.
The Czech Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has said he is satisfied with the details of two contracts outlining the terms for the Czech Republic's lease of 14 JAS-39 Gripen fighter jets from Sweden. The cabinet is due to get copies of the contract on Wednesday. The defence minister said that final debate on the contracts would round up by next week, making the documents' signing a matter of days. The defence minister told journalists on Tuesday the lease would cost the Czech Republic around one billion crowns less than originally proposed - some 19 billion in all. The first contract outlines specifics of the ten-year lease, while the second covers offset programmes.
The Czech Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has revealed that he does not expect Czech military personnel currently serving in Iraq to continue their mission next year. 90 Czech military police officers have been stationed in Iraq since the beginning of 2004, training Iraqi police officers ahead of the transfer of power on June 30th; Parliament has given Czech specialists a mandate to be Iraq until the end of the year. On Monday Mr Kostelka told journalists that the Czech Army's foreign missions needed to be reduced, as the military was also running continuing missions in Afghanistan and Kosovo. He said that although the Czech Army had proved capable of taking part in three missions at once, it was not ideal with regards to on-going reforms. Still, Mr Kostelka did indicate a final decision on forces in Iraq would ultimately lie with "the politicians".
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