Czech daily Pravo has reported that the Minister for Finance Miroslav Kalousek wants to make information concerning requests for grants from public coffers available on the internet. If Mr Kalousek has his way it will be possible to go online and view all grant applications and decisions on awarding public monies. Currently, billions of crowns in public money are dispensed to non-profit organisations, cultural institutions, schools and research facilities every year. In most cases, the decisions on awarding public funds are made by civil servants whose work has not yet been subject to any public scrutiny.
Czech tennis star Tomas Berdych has progressed to the final of the ATP Halle tournament in Germany. The twenty-one-year-old beat Finnish player Jarkka Nieminen in straight sets 7:6 a 6:4 in Saturday's first semi-final. He will now play either Phillipe Kohlschreiber or Marcos Baghdatis on Sunday for the third title of his career and prize money worth 96,000 US dollars.
A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has confirmed that a
woman claiming to be Barbora Skrlova has appeared at the Czech embassy in
Copenhagen. The thirty-two-year-old woman is thought to have masqueraded
as a thirteen-year-old girl known as Anna, who had been taken into care
along with the rest of her family in a highly publicised child-abuse case.
"Anna" escaped from the children's home where she was staying a
short while later. Police investigations during the subsequent nationwide
search for "Anna" revealed that she was probably not in fact a
13-year-old girl but a diminutive 32-year-old woman identified as Barbora
Skrlova. It is thought that Skrlova pretended to be a child in order to be
adopted by Klara Mauerova, a woman who has been charged with abusing her
7-year-old son Ondrej, who was kept bound and naked in a dark room. It is
believed that Ms Skrlova lived with Mauerova's family as Ondrej's
stepsister for several weeks and could have crucial information relating
to the abuse case.
The Ministry for Foreign Affairs said that the woman had provided the embassy in Copenhagen with a hair sample, which had been sent back to the Czech Republic for DNA tests.
A policeman from the economic crime unit in Brno has been arrested on suspicion of downloading pornographic images of children and subsequently distributing them by email according to Lidove noviny. The paper reports that police had been searching for the man after he accidentally left a USB disk with child porn images and photographs of himself in civilian clothing in a computer at an internet café. He was then recognised by chance by one of the investigating officers who passed him in the corridor of Brno police headquarters.
TV Prima has reported that the father of Ondrej, who is at the centre of a highly publicised abuse case, can be seen by his father despite a police ban on family visits. The director of the children's home where Ondrej is staying told the station that they would be allowing the father to make brief visits. Ondrej's mother Klara Mauerova is being charged with abusing the boy by locking him naked and bound in a small dark room, whilst making him eat off the floor and use a bucket as a toilet. His father, who is now divorced from Ondrej's mother, has not been charged with any abuse, but police had wanted to prevent him from seeing the boy for fear that he might influence him with regard to the case. Klara Mauerova faces up to 12 years in prison if found guilty of the abuse. Ondrej's aunt Katerina Mauerova has also been charged with abusing the boy and faces up to 8 years in prison if convicted.
Czech kayaker Stepanka Hilgertova has won a bronze medal in the water slalom event at the European Championships in the Slovak town of Liptovský Mikulá. The two-time Olympic champion finished behind Austrian Violetta Oblingerová-Petersová and German Mandy Planertova to win her sixth European medal. In addition, to her two Olympic golds, Hilgertova has now won one gold, two silver and two bronze European Championship medals.
Prague City Court has ordered President Vaclav Klaus to make a decision regarding the possible appointment of trainee judge Petr Langer to a post on the judiciary. Mr Langer had taken the president to court after he was one of 32 trainee judges whom President Klaus refused to appoint to judicial posts in March last year because they were under 30 and he considered them too young for such responsibilities. The president now has to make a decision in Langer's case within six months. If he again refuses to appoint him as a judge, he must cite legal grounds for doing so. Mr Langer will turn 30 in July.
In related news, Saturday's edition of Lidove Noviny contains an interview with the woman in Copenhagen claiming to be Barbara Skrlova. In the interview she admits to having pretended to be Anna, the stepsister of Ondrej, the seven-year-old boy at the centre of the abuse case, but that another girl had stood in for her when DNA tests were being done during police investigations. She told the paper that she had hidden in a forest after escaping from the children's home where she had been staying before taking a train to Denmark. She also said she did not want to return to the Czech Republic as she was afraid of how people would react to her behaviour. Lidove noviny said that during the interview Skrlova acted like a child and seemed much younger than thirty two. She also bizarrely referred to both Anna and Barbara Skrlova in the third person.
The Czech Republic's largest open-air classical music event - Smetana's Litomysl International Opera Festival kicked off on Friday evening with a concert by popular Czech soprano Eva Urbanova. The annual event, which is held in the town of Litomysl where Czech composer Bedrich Smetana was born, attracts around 14,000 visitors from all over the world. Highlights of this year's festival include a rare performance of Bedrich Smetana's opera Smetana's The Kiss and Giacomo Puccini's Manon Lescaut with renowned foreign soloists. The festival will run until 1 July.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has stressed that the integration of the West Balkans within the European Union is a process that needs to continue; he made the statement after meeting EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom and Security Franco Frattini. The prime minister said that he expected final accession talks with the EU and Croatia would take place during the Czech EU presidency in 2009. Croatia first began accession talks with the EU in October 2005. Earlier this week, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg met with his Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic, also expressing support for Croatia's membership in the European Union.
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czechia now ahead of Spain in GDP per capita, but still below EU average
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott
In memoriam: Karel Gott, the ‘Bohemian nightingale’