Two helicopters, the Croatian coastguard, as well as a number of
volunteers have been searching for a Czech tourist who went missing on
Sunday off the Croatian coast, near the island of Brac. The young
tourist was reportedly swimming with an inflatable mattress when he was
pushed out into the Adriatic by 100 kilometre winds. So far authorities
have searched an area of approximately sixteen square kilometres but
have been unable to find any sign of the swimmer.
The incident is similar to other developments on Sunday when, for example, a group of four Czech tourists was also swept out on an inflatable mattress and raft - but was rescued.
A new detention centre for young offenders - the first of its kind in the Czech Republic - has seen the arrival of its first wards - two teenage boys, both guilty of murder. One of the boys, just 13, killed an elderly women, the other a young girl. Both of the interned will undergo psychiatric tests and extensive counselling, receiving special education, and allowed occasional visits. Authorities hope to be able to rehabilitate underage criminals by age 18. The new detention centre, specifically designed for young offenders, can intern up to 12 youths at one time. The centre is said to have been designed to appear less threatening than a prison, with for example, unbreakable glass windows instead of bars. At the same time, cameras monitor almost all areas: the exception being personal rooms and washroom areas.
President Vaclav Klaus signed into a bill on Monday giving the Lower House of Parliament greater freedom to check cases of police wire-tapping, or bugging. Until now the Lower House's commission monitoring police wiretapping required a 'go ahead' from the Interior Minister. Under the legislation the commission will be allowed to check the details of any wiretapping case, whether ordered by the courts or by state attorneys.
Czech tennis player Jana Novotna, a fresh winner of the women's "over-35" doubles with Tracy Austin at Wimbledon on Saturday, will be inducted to the Tennis Hall of Fame. Novotna, who won 16 grandslam doubles and mixed-doubles titles throughout her career, will be inducted along with players Jim Courier and Yannick Noah. Novotna's most emotional win and career peak came in 1998 when she won the Wimbledon singles final.
A spokeswoman has revealed that the government agency CzechInvest mediated 70 new domestic and foreign investment projects in the first half of 2005 worth almost 25 billion crowns, or the equivalent of almost 1 billion dollars US. The investments are expected to create up to 8,000 new jobs in coming years. CzechInvest says the number of projects is ten higher than a year ago although the volume of investments has remained the same. Roughly a third of investors are heading for northern Bohemia, a region with the highest unemployment in the Czech Republic. The major investors include Germany, the US, the Czech Republic, and Great Britain. Major areas for investments are the auto industry, electronics, engineering, and chemicals and plastics.
Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has asked the Chief State Prosecutor to prepare a comprehensive analysis on legal issues surrounding the long-term detention of suspects on the grounds that, if allowed out on bail, they could influence witnesses. The Justice Minister's request followed a Constitutional Court ruling that led to the release on Friday of Bohumil Kulinsky, the Bambini di Praga choirmaster charged with sexually abusing some 50 underage girls under his tutelage. Mr Kulinsky had been held in prison for over six months while awaiting trial. A justice ministry spokesman said that Nemec believes that the option of pre-trial detention has been abused by prosecutors. The Justice Minister wants to know the number of people placed into custody over the past 5 to 10 years and the reason for their pre-trial detention, said the spokesman.
The main opposition Civic Democratic Party, meanwhile, continues to dominate the political scene in the Czech Republic, according to a new poll by Factum. Nearly 34 percent of respondents said they would vote the Civic Democrat ticket in the next general parliamentary election. The poll shows, however, that the governing Social Democratic Party has gained back favour following the resignation of party chairman Stanislav Gross as prime minister this spring. The Social Democrats now poll at 23 percent, with the new prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, widely seen as a competent leader. Polling at just above 19 percent, the main Communist party remains a strong third, followed by the junior coalition Christian Democratic Party at some 11 percent.
Two Czech football teams scored victories in the second round UEFA Intertoto Cup action this weekend: Slovan Liberec dispatched Beitar Jerusalem 5-1, thanks to goals from Filip Holosko, Tomas Zapotocny, Libor Dosek and a double from Miroslav Slepicka. Another Czech team, Sigma Olomouc beat Pogon Sczecin of Poland 1-0, courtesy of a goal from Peter Babnic. The team from Zlin, however, lost 1-0 to the Belgian club Ghent. The UEFA Intertoto Cup is a between-seasons competition for clubs ranked directly below those that qualify for the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup. The top three teams go on to take part in the UEFA Cup.
The Justice Ministry has said that it will not consider a demand for compensation by two men prosecuted but not convicted for allegedly bribing a member of parliament last year. The two men--one an assistant to Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, and the other a lobbyist with close ties to the centre-right party--were released due to a lack of evidence. The state's case against the two men, Marek Dalik and Jan Vecerek, has been suspended but left open in case new witnesses step forward. In addition to seeking compensation, they want the case permanently closed. The Freedom Union MP who made the accusation, Zdenek Koristka, has maintained that Dalik and Vecerek, acting on behalf of the Civic Democrat leader, last year offered him several hundred thousand euros and a diplomatic posting in Bulgaria to vote against the government in a confidence motion.
The Czech Republic has opened a temporary consulate in the Bulgarian beach resort city of Bourgas, a popular destination for Czech holidaymakers now for decades. The consulate, housed in a local hotel, will operate until the end of peak summer holidays, on August 31. The Czech consulate will cooperate with tour operators to help Czech tourists deal with Bulgarian authorities in emergency situations.
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