Czech football star Pavel Nedved has ruled out any chance of returning to the Czech national side. Team coach Karel Bruckner confirmed this week that the former team captain's decision was final. Although Nedved retired officially from the national side last year, recent weeks had brought speculation he might rejoin the squad for final qualification for the World Cup in Germany. Nedved, a key player for Italy's Juventus Turin, tallied a total of 83 caps for the national squad, with a total of 17 goals. His final game came in last year's European championships' semi-final, where the Czechs were beaten by Greece.
Both Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and the Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy, Martin Jahn, have welcomed a boost in the Czech Republic's foreign currency rating from 'A-minus' to 'A' by the international agency Fitch Ratings. Finance Minister Sobotka said the upgrade reflected what he called the 'excellent situation' in the Czech economy and improvement in public budgets, while Martin Jahn called it 'further proof' the Czech economy was at its strongest in ten years. The higher rating should attract new foreign investment.
An ultralite plane crashed in Prague's Letnany district on Friday, killing both passengers, a father and son. According to reports the plane crashed when landing within the perimeter of an aviation club in Letnany on the outskirts of the capital. The cause of the accident is not yet known. According to investigators at the scene the pilot likely made a mistake when trying to land. A helicopter and an ambulance car arrived immediately at the scene but both passengers were already dead. Two teams of firefighters have been trying to remove the bodies from the plane.
In related news, a representative of the country's Green Party called the Interior Ministry's bill "unconstitutional" on Friday, because it excludes raves from other apolitical gatherings and lists special conditions under which permission for such events can be obtained. The Green Party has said it is preparing its own proposal it would like to present to the government.
A legal team from the right-of-centre, opposition Civic Democrats is planning to put forward a constitutional complaint regarding the recent case of a Qatari royal extradited from Prague to Qatar. Qatari prince Hamid bin Abdal Sani was found guilty of having sex with underage girls in the Czech Republic and sentenced to 2.5 years in prison. But, following a Supreme Court ruling backing a decision by the Justice Minister allowing extradition, Mr Sani was released and returned to Qatar earlier this week, to face prosecution at home. Civic Democrat Jiri Pospisil has made clear he would like the Constitutional Court to investigate sections in the penal code, compared with the Charter of Fundamental Freedoms and Rights.
Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan has told journalists that if a rave was
held now in the Czech Republic and the law was being broken, police would
step in again. Mr Bublan made the statement while visiting the Tachov
region on Friday, the site of a controversial rave attended by some 4,000
July, an event broken up forcibly by police. On July 29th, concluding that
property was being damaged, 1,000 officers in riot gear brought the rave,
known as CzechTek, to an end using tear gas and water cannons. Dozens of
those in attendance, as well as officers, suffered minor injuries.
On Friday, the interior minister met with local majors and other officials in the Tachov region, saying he will propose new legislation in September regarding rave events. The new bill, he said, will require organisers to submit a list of conditions for approval, with municipalities reserving the right to ban. The Interior Minister indicated he would like the bill to come into law as early as possible, next spring.
The German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has welcomed the Czech government's apology for mistreating Sudeten Germans who opposed the Nazi regime and remained loyal to Czechoslovakia during WWII. In a telephone conversation with the Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, Chancellor Schroeder described it as "an act of political courage", which was much appreciated. The gesture was directed to a narrow group of Sudeten Germans who were caught up in the violent post-war expulsions despite the fact that they had actively opposed the Nazi regime and never betrayed Czechoslovakia.
Water levels in the north-eastern part of the Czech Republic are subsiding, but many towns remain on flood alert following days of heavy rain. Dozens of people had to be evacuated from their homes on Wednesday after unexpectedly heavy rainfall led to flooding in some areas. The high alert was triggered chiefly by conditions in Ostrava, where the Ostravice river burst its banks during the day and flooded surrounding streets. The flooding also affected the towns of Bohumin, Havirov and Cesky Tesin where many people reported water in their cellars. A huge clean up operation is now underway.
The country's new Gripen fighter jets were sent out on their first mission on Thursday to help a Turkish plane which had lost radio connection with air control. The passenger plane flying from Istanbul to Hamburg was escorted by the Czech pilots to the German border, where it was taken over by German fighter jets. The Czech Republic has leased 12 Gripen fighter jets from Sweden, to replace the outdated Soviet-made Mig 21s.
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