Four Czechs, one of them a young boy, were killed when their light aircraft crashed in the Swiss Alps on Tuesday night. Police in the Swiss canton of Valais said that all the occupants of the single engine plane were found dead in the wreckage of the Czech registered aircraft, shortly after it crashed near the Simplon mountain pass. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
While the government's decision was welcomed by Sudeten German organisations on Wednesday, it was criticised by President Vaclav Klaus who said the cabinet's step was an erroneous, unnecessary and empty gesture which may harm the Czech Republic. Mr Klaus said that the sensitive historic chapter had been resolved and closed by the Czech-German Declaration, agreed on by the Czech and German governments in 1997. President Klaus also complained that the government and the Foreign Ministry had not consulted him on the statement.
Czech politicians are trying to reach consensus on a framework for pension reform. The Labour and Social Affairs Minister Zdenek Skromach said there was now agreement across the political spectrum on the need to gradually raise the retirement age for both men and women. However many key issues remain highly controversial. The Social Democrats are in favour of introducing individual pension accounts. Their coalition partners the Christian Democrats propose that people send part of their obligatory pension payments to pension funds, the opposition Civic Democrats are in favour of a low state pension supplemented by private savings while the Communists are in favour of maintaining the pay-as-you-go system.
Czech international footballer Milan Baros will remain in the English Premiership after his side, FC Liverpool, agreed to sell the striker to Aston Villa for a reported 6.5 million pounds. The 24-year-old is believed to have agreed to the terms and faces a medical Tuesday. The move to Aston Villa, where Baros will play with fellow Czech Patrik Berger, comes after weeks of speculation over the striker's future. Last year Baros was Liverpool's joint-top scorer, but faced tough competition this year among fellow Liverpool players.
The charges of damaging private property levelled against the organizer of an open air techno party Vaclav Sroub have been withdrawn. The state attorney returned the case to the police for further investigation, saying that the evidence collected against Sroub did not indicate that he was in any way responsible for damage to private property. The charges were made in the wake of the July techno party CzechTek which was broken up by the police on the grounds that the participants were trespassing on private land. The police have estimated the damage at around 300,000 crowns.
Prince Hamid bin Abdal Sani, a member of Qatar's royal family, who was sentenced to two and a half years in prison by a Czech court for sexual abuse of underage girls, was released from custody late on Monday and has now left the Czech Republic. The Czech Supreme Court on Monday ruled that Abdal Sani could be extradited to face criminal prosecution in Qatar. The court ruling, which is believed to have set an important precedent, complied with an earlier request by Justice Minister Pavel Nemec for Mr Sani to be tried in his homeland.
The government tourist board CzechTourism has revealed the results of a
survey looking at reasons why foreigners visit the Czech Republic:
according to the poll: relaxation and exploration top the list.
According to the board, foreigners come most to visit friends as well
as come on business trips and for sports and cultural events. Last year
8 million foreigners visited the Czech Republic - that number is
expected to grow by 10 percent this year.
CzechTourism's survey polled some 8,000 respondents in Austria, Germany, Poland, and Slovkia, of whom less than one percent said they had never visited the Czech Republic.
The Czech Supreme Court has ruled that Prince Hamid bin Abdal Sani, a member of Qatar's royal family, may be extradited to face criminal prosecution in Qatar. On Monday the court complied with an earlier request by Justice Minister Pavel Nemec allowing Mr Sani to be tried at home. Earlier this year, in Prague, Mr Sani was sentenced to two and a half years in prison for the sexual abuse of 16 underage girls. He will now be released from custody. Qatari authorities have begun preparing Mr Sani's prosecution; at home the royal could reportedly even face a life sentence.
A member of the ruling Social Democratic Party's executive committee,
Marian Kus, has been asked by members of the party's Moravian and
Silesian Committee to temporarily give up his post. Mr Kus, listed as a
collaborator with the Communist-era secret police, is under suspicion
of having forged a lustration certificate in order to clear his name.
Prominent Social Democrat leaders like deputy leader Lubomir Zaoralek
have expressed dismay over the charge, saying if proven it would make
it unacceptable for Mr Kus to remain within party ranks.
Mr Kus himself has not responded to the charge, failing to attend a meeting of the regional executive committee on Monday. He sent only a phone text message explaining he was not in the country.
A spokesman for the Luxembourg-based company, EMV, has said his firm has
prepared an arbitration lawsuit against the Czech Republic, blaming the
country for having failed to protect a 45 million dollar investment. EMV
was a financial partner in the now-defunct regional television broadcaster
TV 3. The company has blamed the Czech Republic's Council for Radio &
Television Broadcasting (RRTV) for what it called "unlawful
conduct" in a broadcasting licence dispute that saw the licence
eventually go to a competitor.
EMV's lawsuit is the second case in which a foreign investor has blamed the Czech Republic for failing to protect foreign investment in the media sector. Two years ago an arbitration court awarded the Bermuda-based company CME 10 billion crowns - the equivalent of 354 million US dollars - for losses incurred when the company was cut out of the market-leading private broadcaster TV Nova.
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