Figures released by the Czech National Bank on Thursday showed that household debt in the Czech Republic stood at 662 billion CZK (33.1 billion USD) at the end of September this year. This amount was up nearly 13 billion CZK on the previous month. The head of the bank, Zdenek Tuma, reacted by saying that such a rapid growth in household debt was not sustainable, but that, for the time being, there was 'no significant risk' posed by the rate of household debt.
The last living prosecutor at the trial of Milada Horakova has received an eight-year prison sentence for judicial murder. Ludmila Brozova Polednova sat on the panel that condemned the democratic politician Milada Horakova to death in 1950, under the Czechoslovak Communist regime. On Thursday, a Prague court sentenced Mrs Polednova to eight years in a high security jail. Many had thought that Mrs Polednova, who is now 86, would not receive a jail sentence on grounds of her age, but the judge presiding over the case said that she had acted in contempt of the law, and should therefore go to jail. Acting as an accomplice to murder normally carries a fifteen-year jail sentence, but Mrs Polednova received a lesser sentence because of her age and, according to the judge, because of the time that had lapsed since the event. Milada Horakova was the only women ever to be executed in communist Czechoslovakia for political reasons, and was condemned following a trail that many thought was staged.
On Thursday, the Defence Ministry announced that a further round of talks on the proposed American radar base to be built in the Czech Republic had come to a close. Czech and American representatives had been meeting to discuss the wording of a bilateral agreement which would define the legal status of the military base and its employees, weapons' regulations on the base, and Czech access to the radar, among other points. According to a Defence Ministry spokesperson, the talks will continue into the next couple of months until an agreement can be found on the wording of the text. Despite the ongoing negotiations, it is still uncertain whether there will be a US missile defence shield built in the Czech Republic at all. The radar still has to be approved by the Czech parliament and the president. The White House is only expecting a final decision from the Czechs in 2008.
The parents of two newborn baby girls who were accidentally swapped at
birth have received 100,000 CZK (5,000 USD) each from Vysocina Regional
Council. District Officer Milos Vystrcil, who handed over the amount, said
the sum was purely to cover expenses caused by the baby mix-up. He added
that the parents and the hospital at fault would have to negotiate a figure
for emotional damages at a later date. One of the parents, Libor Broza,
responded to the donation by saying that it was hard to tell if it did in
fact cover all the costs incurred, but at least it was something. The two
families affected by the baby-swap are thought to want 1 million CZK from
the Trebic hospital involved for each month that they have lived with their
In related news, Trebic police have suspended their investigations into hospital personnel implicated in the baby-swap. According to a spokesperson, there is little evidence that the mix-up was deliberate and thus a criminal offence. On Wednesday, two of the hospital employees who were sacked following the incident were reinstated in their positions.
The Chamber of Deputies has passed a bill tightening the rules on foreigners applying for permanent residence or asylum in the Czech Republic. Under the new legislation, which still has to go before the Senate and the president, foreigners who marry Czech citizens will have to wait two years before being able to apply for a permanent residence permit; currently they can apply as soon as they get married. Passing an exam in the Czech language will also be a prerequisite for getting a permanent residence permit. The bill passed by the lower house on Wednesday also defines conditions for the treatment of foreigners who apply for asylum at Prague Airport. The Czech Interior Ministry says the tougher rules are necessary in view of the fact the country will join the Schengen zone later this year.
Czech men's tennis number one Tomas Berdych has kept his hopes of reaching the prestigious season's end Masters Cup in Shanghai alive, after advancing to the third round at the Paris Masters with a 6-3 6-3 win over Croatia's Mario Ancic. A good run in Paris could secure Berdych a place in the elite eight player tournament. The Czech now faces Spain's David Ferrer in the third round.
A doctor and nurse dismissed from a hospital in Trebic after a high-profile baby mix-up have been reinstated. The head of the hospital's children's unit, Jan Kozak, and the unit's senior nurse, Jitka Pospisilova, were fired in October after it emerged that two babies were accidentally swapped at birth almost a year ago. However, both have now been offered their positions back by the hospital, and have accepted, Dr Kozak told reporters.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek
will have to leave the government if he cannot plausibly and quickly
allegations he abused the social welfare system. A Czech Television
programme this week alleged that during the 1990s Mr Cunek collected
welfare while at the same time lodging millions of crowns in different
accounts. Members of the party Mr Cunek leads, the Christian Democrats,
have also called for him to clear up the matter. The deputy prime minister
denies the allegations.
Jiri Cunek has frequently been in the headlines since he entered national politics last year. He was accused of racism after moving Romany rent-defaulters out of the Moravian town where he was mayor, while for a time his position in government was under threat due to alleged bribe-taking, though those allegations never made it to court.
The writer Jan Novak has been presented the Josef Skvorecky Award for his novel Deda (Granddad). Novak, who settled in the United States after leaving Czechoslovakia the late 1960s, also received a cheque for CZK 250,000 (over USD 13,000) from the organisers, Prague's Josef Skvorecky Private College.
The Ministry of Finance has again revised upwards its estimate of growth in the Czech economy this year. The ministry said growth should reach 5.9 percent in 2007, a slight increase on the 5.8 percent forecast it made in June of this year. Last year the Czech Republic saw record GDP growth of 6.4 percent.
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