Three Czechs are among the 22 people confirmed dead after their small plane crashed in Cambodia on Monday. There were no survivors. Cambodian authorities said bad weather was the most likely cause of the crash, which occurred in a mountainous area. The Russian made twin-propeller plane was travelling between two tourist destinations in the country. The Czech Foreign Ministry said the Czech victims were two men and a woman, aged 19 to 21.
The deputy mayor of the Brno suburb of Kralovo Pole Rene Pelan has on his own initiative removed a hammer and sickle symbol from a memorial to Soviet soldiers, TV Prima reported. Brno City Hall and the Defence Ministry had earlier this year decided to replace the communist symbols, which had been taken down in the early 1990s, during renovation of the 1946 monument. However, councillors in Kralovo Pole were opposed to the return of the hammer and sickle. Mr Pelan's removal of the symbols prompted clashes between supporters and opponents of his action at an unveiling ceremony on Wednesday. Police are investigating whether the local official broke the law by taking them down.
A Czech pilot is under investigation for sleeping in the cockpit while flying a Travel Service plane from Tenerife to Prague two months ago, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. Furthermore, the pilot was allegedly alone in the cockpit at the time, which contravenes regulations. When the sleeping pilot's Boeing 737 appeared without authorisation in Swiss air space, the Swiss authorities sent fighter jets to investigate, the paper said. The airline Travel Service denies the latter allegation.
The director of Prague airport, Miroslav Dvorak, says preparations have been completed for its privatisation. The privatisation process is set to begin this year, though the Ministry of Transport has not yet set a concrete date for the sell-off. However, Mr Dvorak said Prague airport should be in private ownership by spring next year.
Hens which died on a farm in east Bohemia had the dangerous H5N1 strain of
bird flu, health officials said on Wednesday. The farm is just four
kilometres from the spot where the disease was also discovered last week,
in what was the first case of any kind of bird flu detected on a Czech
poultry farm. Meanwhile, officials said a dead swan found in Moravia also
had bird flu. It has not yet been ascertained what strain of the disease
the bird had.
The minister of agriculture, Petr Gandalovic, said measures aimed at preventing the further spread of bird flu had been introduced on the whole territory of the Czech Republic. The minister also said he was worried the outbreaks would have a negative impact on the country's poultry industry.
The European Commission is going to extend until 2010 an exemption under which construction work in the Czech Republic is in the lower, five-percent value added tax bracket, the Czech Press Agency reported. The exemption had been due to come to an end in January, and there were fears of a subsequent rise in house prices. The EC is due to officially announce the news next week.
More than three quarters of Czech firms say they have experienced corruption within their business activities, according to a survey carried out by the business daily Hospodarske Noviny. Half of the respondents said they would pay a bribe if it secured new orders for them. Four out of ten entrepreneurs polled confessed to having given a bribe on at least one occasion to further their company's interests. Earlier this year the Czech Justice Ministry unveiled a broad anti-corruption plan including an amendment to the penal code which would introduce tougher punishment for both offering and accepting a bribe, as well as for failing to report a serious case of bribery. The ministry's anti-corruption plan likewise envisages special training for judges, the establishment of special anti-corruption "panels" and anti corruption agents and a special hot line for anyone who wants to report a case.
Health Minister Tomas Julinek on Tuesday dismissed Prague's chief hygiene officer Vladimir Polanecky and Zlin's hygiene officer Olga Groschlova, citing poor management. Mr. Polanecky countered that his sacking was a political decision, based on the fact that he is a member of the opposition Social Democrats. A spokesman for the Health Ministry said that an in-depth audit would be made in both institutions.
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