The Security Council is meeting to discuss security issues in the wake of Thursday's terrorist attacks in London. Security measures have already been tightened around the country with increased police patrols in the city centre, at airports and railway stations, power plants and all buildings deemed sensitive, including the headquarters of Radio Free Europe. Following a meeting with the country's intelligence services Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said he had no information indicating a possible terrorist attack on Czech territory, but said that greater precautions would be necessary in the coming days and weeks.
The Ombudsman Otakar Motejl says that he does not have evidence to suggest that the former communist regime ordered enforced sterilization of Romany women. Close to eighty Romany women have written to the Ombudsman complaining that they were sterilized after giving birth without authorizing the procedure. The cases go back over a 30 year period and the Ombudsman told journalists that, serious as the matter was, closer investigation suggested that the cases were isolated incidents rather than an ordained practice. They allegedly happened in different hospitals and at different times and could not be linked to a given person or institution. The Human Rights League, which has also been monitoring the problem, does not agree, claiming that the former communist regime ordered the practice and that Romany women were bribed with money to agree to be sterilized.
A young man who got into a fight with a tram driver has been served 200 hours of community service by a Prague court. The twenty three year old was allegedly making trouble and holding up the tram by blocking its back doors. When the tram driver came round to investigate and asked him to desist they got into a fight in which the driver got both his arms broken.
Seven Czechs believed to have been in the centre of London at the time of the bombings have so far failed to contact their relatives in the Czech Republic. The Foreign Ministry has established a hot line where people with missing friends and relatives can get more information. Over seventy Czechs staying in Britain contacted their families within 24 hours, and the ministry says it will wait until Friday night before giving the names of the people still unaccounted for to the British authorities.
The police have detained 24 illegal refugees, whom they found packed in the back of a lorry during a routine check on the D1 highway from Brno to Prague. Their detection caused a minor incident on the road when some of the refugees attacked the officers while the others ran for cover. Police re-enforcements finally rounded up the whole group. They are all Chinese nationals and have been placed in a detention centre, pending further questioning and possibly expulsion.
During its session on Thursday, the Czech government decided to increase the number of police patrols at various locations in Prague. Both the interior ministry and the Czech secret police say the enforcement is just a precaution and they have no reason to believe that there is a threat of attack against the Czech Republic. According to Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan, security is to be heightened aaround the headquarters of the US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in the city centre, department stores, the public transport network, and all strategic buildings. A special telephone hotline has also been opened by the foreign ministry for Czechs who have not been able to get in touch with their relatives in London.
The Czech cabinet also discussed a bilateral agreement with Austria on Thursday that would increase police cooperation. With the agreement, which is to be signed in mid-July, the interior ministries of both countries hope to join forces and combat crime more effectively. The document makes it easier to search for suspects across the borders and introduces joint border controls, in order to reduce the high number of illegal migrants believed to cross the borders every year.
Czech politicians have expressed their condolences and solidarity with Britain, in reaction to the terrorist attacks on London on Thursday. In a letter to the Queen, Czech President Vaclav Klaus, who is currently at the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival in west Bohemia, said the Czech Republic would join Britain to face those who, with cowardly practices, are trying to destroy the values that our civilization is based on. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek as well as the speakers of both houses of the Czech Parliament have said the attacks on the European continent prove that the international fight against terrorism has been imperative and must continue.
A state-funded international centre for clinical research will most likely be opened in the Moravian capital of Brno, the Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Martin Jahn said on Thursday. The plan is part of the National Innovation Policy, under which results of research are to be put into practice by 2010. This goal is to be reached by putting one percent of the GDP into research and development, making it easier to acquire grants, and making technology and mathematics subjects more attractive at universities. The policy was approved by the government on Thursday. Mr Jahn's office expects to present a more detailed plan on the establishment of the clinical research centre in the next month.
Tuesday was also a holiday in the Czech Republic, in honour of SS Cyril and Methodius, who brought Christianity to the Czech Lands in the 9th century. While many people enjoyed the day off, it was a black one on the country's roads, with 11 people dying in accidents, the highest number for a single day so for this year. The authorities said the number of collisions may have been due to motorists being tired after driving long distances on the state holiday.
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