Fifty-six Czechs have died abroad so far during this year’s summer holidays, the Czech Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. Thirteen have died in Croatia, the most popular foreign destination for Czech tourists. A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said deaths were the most common subject dealt with by Czech diplomatic staff in other countries. Every year the ministry warns tourists not to overdo it at the sea, in the mountains and on the roads.
Forty new fire engines purchased for Czech fire brigades last year are not up to scratch, Mladá fronta Dnes reported. Fire officers told the newspaper the engines have a number of technical shortcomings, including relatively complicated handling of hoses and breathing apparatus. However, a representative of the Czech company which produced the fire engines said the only problem had been with their electrical systems, which had been repaired.
Meanwhile, a married couple have been awarded compensation for the publication of a photo of the remains of their son in a tabloid newspaper. A Prague court ordered the daily Šíp to pay the pair CZK 100,000 (around USD 6,500) after it published a front page picture of the burned remains of their son in a car wreck after a collision. A lawyer for Šíp had argued that printing the photo was in the public interest, as it could help prevent road accidents. After the verdict was announced, the young man’s mother said she hoped other parents would never have to see such a photograph of their child.
The number of people identified as HIV positive in the Czech Republic continues to grow, according to the National Reference Laboratory for AIDS. Between the start of the year and the end of June, 78 new cases were recorded – 21 more than in the same period in 2007. Almost a thousand people were registered as HIV positive at the end of last month, said a spokesperson for the national AIDS centre. Experts say the actual number infected could be up to 10 times higher. Over half of those identified as suffering from the disease live in Prague.
A small far-right political group is preparing a document calling for the relocation of the Czech Republic’s Roma population to India, Lidové noviny reported. The National Party have titled the 150-page document “The Final Solution to the Question of Gypsies in the Czech Lands”. The party say they themselves would buy land in India for the “repatriation”. Condemning the proposal, Romany leader Ivan Veselý told the paper his people had been living in this part of the world for 500 years. He said, however, he was not surprised by the use of anti-Romany rhetoric.
The Czech broadcasting council has fined the commercial station TV Nova CZK 1,000,000 (around USD 65,000) for showing particularly raw images of the remains of a murder victim in an afternoon news broadcast in January. The victim’s killer had cut up her body and buried it in the grounds of a school in north Bohemia. Nova broadcast pictures of the body parts following their discovery and described the killing in some detail. The broadcasting council said both the video and the descriptions could have been harmful to young people.
Repair work on the Villa Tugendhat will begin next year, not this year as originally planned, an official in Brno told the newspaper Lidové noviny. The 1920s villa is regarded as one of the most important examples of modern architecture in the Czech Republic. The Villa Tugendhat has belonged to the city of Brno since 1994 and authorities there have been planning a comprehensive renovation for several years.
Former prime minister Miloš Zeman may be about to come out of retirement and re-enter politics, following the official registration of The Friends of Miloš Zeman Civic Association with the Interior Ministry last week. The organisation’s spokesman Miroslav Grégr – who served as industry minister in a Social Democrat government headed by Mr Zeman – told the newspaper Právo on Wednesday that it would formulate a manifesto at a meeting in Prague next week. Mr Grégr said the group, which may attract up to 500 members, now needed to create a functioning organizational network. The Friends of Miloš Zeman are due to hold their first public events after the summer holidays. Mr Zeman was prime minister for four years at the turn of the decade and failed in a bid to become president in 2003. He quit the Social Democrats last year due to differences with current leader Jiří Paroubek.
President Václav Klaus has abolished healthcare fees for newborn babies. The amendment to the government’s healthcare reform package exempts newborns, organ donors and those legally ordered to undergo treatment from paying healthcare fees. As part of the reforms, patients have been obliged since January to pay 30 crowns (nearly 2 USD) per visit to the doctor, and 60 crowns per day spent in hospital. The introduction of fees has come under severe criticism on the grounds that a visit to the doctor should be covered by health insurance. The opposition also wants to see the elderly and children under 18 exempt from the payment.