The police are investigating Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, after he presented several wads of what looked like banknotes on a TV debate programme, the website aktualne.cz reports. He put the wads on the table in an attempt to highlight alleged corruption involving the Social Democrats, whose leader Jiri Paroubek he was debating. Mr Topolanek is now being investigated on suspicion of counterfeiting, aktualne says.
The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, says the European Union's
ability to absorb more countries should not be a condition for further
enlargement. Speaking after an EU summit in Brussels, the minister said
by absorption ability he meant the question of whether present members
can afford the accession of other countries, and whether they could
defend further enlargement in their own parliaments. Mr Svoboda called
for the doors to enlargement to be "opened fully".
On the issue of ratification of the stalled EU constitution, Minister Svoboda said the process should not continue, given that the document had been rejected by French and Dutch voters. Fifteen EU states have ratified the constitution, while a number of others - including the Czech Republic - have put the issue on hold.
The jazz singer Vlasta Pruchova has died at the age of 79. Known as the first lady of Czech jazz, she was actually born in Ruzomberok in Slovakia. In a career spanning over half a century, she appeared with many of the country's leading groups and orchestras. Her late husband Jan Hammer - a cardiologist by profession - also played jazz, while their son Jan Hammer is an internationally famous musician.
The Prague City Court has ruled that St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle belongs to the Roman Catholic Church and not the state, upholding an earlier verdict by a Prague district court. The Church and the state have been fighting over ownership rights for over thirteen years. A 1954 government resolution gave Prague Castle the authority to manage the cathedral and surrounding property but the court decided that the transfer of management did not automatically imply a transfer of ownership. The state plans to appeal at the Supreme Court.
Five people were killed in a traffic accident on Friday afternoon when two passenger cars collided head-on near the town of Breclav, South Moravia. Fire fighters and a helicopter were called to the scene of the accident. Only one passenger, a woman from Slovakia, survived the crash and was rushed to hospital.
Civic Democrat chairman Mirek Topolanek has said he is going to meet the outgoing prime minister and Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek by Sunday. Speaking after a meeting on Friday with the leaders of a possible government coalition Mr Toplanek said that negotiators from both his Civic Democrats and the Social Democrats, which are the second biggest party in the lower house now, would meet next week. The emerging government coalition wants to seek the Social Democrats' support since it does not have a majority in the lower house. However, the Social Democrats say that they will not support a centre-right government.
The BBC World Service will consider taking legal steps against the decision by the Czech broadcasting council which ruled this week that the BBC had broken license regulations by sharing its local frequency with a Czech Radio news station. The former editor-in-chief of the BBC's Czech Section and now a representative of the licence holder, Radiocom, Vit Kolar, said on Friday that at the moment the London headquarters is considering three options, one of them being legal action. The BBC Czech Service was discontinued earlier this year and the BBC now faces the threat of losing the FM license for its English-language broadcasts in the Czech Republic.
Three Czech centre-right parties have agreed how they will divide seats in a cabinet they are forming after an election earlier this month, though they have offered no clues on how they will secure a majority in parliament. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats won the election but together with their partners, the centrist Christian Democrats and the Greens, they control only 100 seats in the 200-seat lower house. Civic Democrat chief Mirek Topolanek said on Friday after negotiations between the three parties that the Civic Democrats would take nine seats in the new cabinet, while the smaller parties would have three each. The party leaders reiterated that they expected to sign a coalition agreement ahead of the first session of the newly elected parliament due on June 27.
Czech customs officers have arrested a total of seven foreigners
operating in the drug trade near the Czech - German border. Operation
Nightfall involved customs officers from the west Bohemian border
crossings of Rozvadov, Cheb, Sokolov, Teplice, as well as Prague, and
the undercover investigation lasted for over a year. The foreigners—six
Vietnamese nationals and one Albanian—have been charged with illegal
drug manufacturing as well as possession with intent to sell. Nearly
two kilograms of the methamphetamine pervitine was uncovered during the
police raids, and the accused are suspected of selling about 10 000
grams of pervitine for use on the German drug market. If convicted,
they face up to 15 years in jail.
Meanwhile, police in the west Bohemian city of Plzen have arrested a 49 year-old German male for drug trafficking in the downtown core. The man is accused of figuring as a core heroin dealer in Plzen since 2001.
The Czech Republic has established diplomatic ties with the newest state in southeastern Europe. Montenegro declared its independence from Serbia after a national referendum in late May, and became the 45th state in Europe. The Czech Republic acknowledged the independence of Montenegro earlier this week, and diplomatic ties were made formal on Thursday.
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