There was a boom in housing construction in the Czech Republic in 2004, with the highest number of new flats completed in over a decade, according to figures released Friday. Over 32,000 flats were completed last year, the highest number since 1992. The trend has been attributed to the easier availability of mortgages, a growth in home building savings and favourable interest rates.
Czech judges are considering setting up an independent council which would give them more independence from the state, following President Vaclav Klaus's refusal this week to appoint 32 judges because they were under the age of 30. There is a shortage of judges in the Czech Republic, and critics of Mr Klaus's decision say it means people will be denied the right to quick court proceedings. Most European countries have an independent judges' body.
Two hundred manuscripts from the 16th to 18th centuries have been damaged by steam which escaped from a chimney at Prague's National Museum. Director Michal Lukes said on Friday the damage could be repaired, at a cost of around 100,000 Czech crowns (almost 5,000 US dollars). The management of the National Museum say the building is in need of extensive repairs.
A leading member of the opposition Civic Democrats, Vlastimil Tlusty, has taken out a newspaper advertisement refuting reports by Czech Television questioning the origin of property belonging to Mr Tlusty's wife's company. The advertisement in Friday's Mlada fronta Dnes accuses Czech TV of broadcasting "lies" about the company. Mr Tlusty himself appeared on TV recently with documents he said showed the purchase of his house had been above board.
The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, has praised the work of non-governmental organisations taking part in relief and reconstruction work in Indonesia in the wake of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster. Speaking in Banda Aceh on Friday, Mr Svoboda said the NGOs played a positive role, and it would not be a good decision if the Indonesian authorities barred foreigners from the region.
The minister for regional development has said that districts and towns should be allowed to raise regulated rent from between 6 to 12 percent per year for a period of five or six years. He added tenants whose rent exceeded 30 percent of their net income would be eligible for social support. The minister is confident his plan could gain support in Parliament, though coalition partner the Christian Democrats, and the country's largest opposition party, the Civic Democrats, are calling for a quicker increase. Around 750, 000 apartments in the Czech Republic are subject to regulated rent, of which roughly 300, 000 are privately owned.
The Czech Supreme Court has overturned a previous conviction of a man who published a Czech language translation of Adolf Hitler's "Mein Kampf", ruling he had not aimed to propagate the book's racist ideas. Publisher Michal Zitko was originally convicted in January 2004 for having translated and published Hitler's book, a document which foreshadowed the dictator's intentions leading to the Second World War and the Holocaust. Previously Michal Zitko was given a three year suspended sentence for promoting "a movement aimed at suppressing human rights". But, the Supreme Court said on Thursday the publisher's actions had not been an active attempt to support those who followed Hitler's book.
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