For the first time ever, Czechs will be sending their own elected representatives to the European Parliament. Czechs were the first of the 10 new EU member states to vote in the elections with polling stations opening at 2 pm on Friday throughout the Czech Republic and closing at 10 in the evening. The voting is to continue on Saturday, with the polling stations opening at 8 in the morning and closing at 2 in the afternoon. The final surveys released before voting got underway on Friday suggested that about 30-40 percent of the 8 million-plus Czechs who are eligible to vote were likely to do so. Over 730 people are in the running for the 24 seats allotted to the Czech Republic in the European Parliament, representing 31 different political parties and groupings.
Czech police are investigating two more football officials who have been implicated in a bribery scandal that erupted last month. Prosecutor Pavel Pukovec told Czech Radio that football referee Petr Rehor is suspected of having agreed to accept a bribe to favour Synot in its match against Zlin in the top Czech football division. Meanwhile an official of Synot, Igor Stefanko, is being prosecuted for offering a bribe of 200,000 crowns (about $8,000) to the Slovak referee Eduard Cichy to influence a March 13 match at which Synot faced Teplice. So far, seven people, five of them referees, have been accused in the scandal. If tried and convicted, they face up to two years in prison.
The police have brought criminal charges against Jan Karas, the doctor who on Monday drove his car into a two-year-old girl and her mother. The accident occurred on the grounds of Prague's Vinohrady teaching hospital, where Dr. Karas held a high position. A deputy state prosecutor said that Dr. Karas had been charged with drunk driving and causing grievous bodily harm. The two-year-old girl, who suffered serious head injuries and damage to her internal organs, is being kept in hospital under anaesthesia, is due to undergo additional surgery next week.
Another suspected case of BSE or mad cow disease has been reported on a farm near the east Bohemian town of Trutnov. The four-year old cow first showed symptoms of BSE in May. Further tests have yet to confirm whether the animal really suffered from mad cow disease.
The Czech national football squad arrived in Portugal on Thursday afternoon to begin their final training sessions ahead of their opening match in the Euro 2000 championship. This coming Tuesday, the Czech Republic faces Latvia, who have never before made it to the European Championship, and are not expected to pose much of a challenge for the Czech team.
Saturday is expected to be party cloudy and cooler than in recent days with a maximum temperature of 21 degrees Celsius.
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