A court in Ústí nad Labem, northern Bohemia, acquitted on Monday 14 people who had been accused of embezzling Universal Bank in 1999. The prosecution claimed the accused committed fraud causing the bank a loss of 660 million crowns, or more than 38 million US dollars, but the court said that the activities of the accused were not criminal.
The Czech Republic’s chief hygiene officer Michael Vít told reporters on Monday that the situation regarding hepatitis A in the country was not critical, despite the growing number of cases. More than 600 people have been infected with hepatitis A since the beginning of the year. Local epidemics of the disease occurred in Prague and central Bohemia during the summer, with more than 340 cases in the capital alone. Mr Vít said no preventive measures were needed although the authorities expect that infection rates will culminate by late November.
The Czech military counterintelligence says that foreign spies have tried to gain classified information about a planned US radar base in the Czech Republic. In its annual report for 2007, published on Monday, the Czech agency said that intelligence services of some countries were interested in recruiting Czech citizens with access to classified information. The report also said that in 2007, concrete interest was registered in information relating to the construction of the US anti-missile radar on Czech territory. The report came after the Czech civilian intelligence service said last week that Russian spies attempted to increase opposition on the part of Czech politicians, media and citizen groups to the radar base.
Writer and playwright Adolf Branald died in Prague on Sunday at the age of 97. Mr Branald, whose major novels Dědeček automobil and Vizita were also filmed, published his last work in 2005. He is also credited to have been the first Czech male film actor due to his appearance in a 1918 movie, filmed by his father. In 1996, Adolf Branald was presented with the Czech PEN Club Award in recognition of his lifelong work.
In celebrations to mark Czech national day, a spruced up version of the Czech national hymn “Kde Domov Můj” premieres at the Czech National Theatre in Prague on Sunday evening. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek, in an unusual move, requested that the hymn be modernized for the occasion. The result is slightly different orchestration and an altered tempo.
Police in the Czech town of Hodonín have intervened to prevent a planned concert to be staged by Neo-Nazis. The decision was taken to prevent Neo-Nazis from clashing with Roma demonstrators and also a group of anarchists. The police intervention ultimately prevented the Neo-Nazis from gathering in Hodonín, but it was later discovered that they had held a gathering and concert some 20 kilometers from the town, near a village called Šardice. Police have stated that they did not intervene during this gathering as no laws were broken. Locals in the village have stated that they had no idea that such a gathering would take place in their area.
Under a newly unveiled government education proposal, head-teachers will be able to “correct” grades given to pupils that have been found to be unfair, reported the daily Hospodářské Noviny on Sunday. The bill passed its first reading in parliament last week, and is designed to bypass the current system in which a disputed grading leads to the pupil having to re-sit a test.
The Malostranská Beseda or “Meeting Place” a former local town hall had the last of its former copper domes reinstated on Sunday. The domes were removed in 1828, and heated discussions have taken place in recent times as to whether the building should be restored to its original 17th century form. Protracted reconstruction of the building has been underway since 2007, with the cost of returning the domes estimated at 26 million crowns. The project is set to be completed in the middle of next year. After that time, local authorities have plans to make the building into the cultural centre of the Malostranská area in the centre of Prague.
A copy of the original Munich Agreement, the document which in 1938 gutted Czechoslovakia by ceding its Sudeten territories to Hitler, has been placed on display in the Czech Senate. In a decision made to mark St. Wenceslas day, parts of the Senate not normally opened to the public were opened, including a salon overlooking the Valdštejn Gardens and the office of the Deputy Head of the Senate Jiří Liška. The Munich Agreement will be visible in the Senate’s display hall. The copy was given to the Czech Republic in September, and was followed by a surprise announcement that the original document would also be loaned to the Czech Republic and be placed on display in Prague’s National Museum.
The Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has dismissed talk of an impending economic slowdown in the Czech Republic. The comments were made on Czech Television on Sunday. The Finance Minister also addressed the current financial crisis in the US, saying that the government would not bailout companies if a similar situation arose in the Czech Republic. A number of Czech companies, including porcelain maker Krystalex have been facing growing debt problems in recent weeks. Mr Kalousek also stated that cuts would have to be made to the state budget.
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