A court in Brno sentenced four individuals for disorderly conduct at a recent football match, three of them with up to 400 hours of community service. The fourth, a Polish national, was expelled from the country and banned for five years. A fifth person remains to be tried. All of the men, fans of the Ostrava Baník football club, were involved in broader fan violence on Sunday ahead of a Brno-Ostrava match. Police in riot gear had to be called in to gain control of the situation. The recent violence and the introduction of new rules shifting the responsibility for security to individual clubs - from the police - has drawn criticism from the largest opposition party, the Social Democrats. The issue of hooliganism is to be discussed in the lower house next week.
A firm responsible for the organisation of mass transit in Prague has said that city bus drivers stole tens of millions of crowns from the company last year, Lidové noviny reported. Some ten percent of the city’s drivers are thought to be guilty of having accepted transit fees without issuing actual tickets. The number of passengers who were stolen from has been estimated at 2.8 million.
The French-Dutch airliner Air France-KLM is reportedly weighing a bid for ČSA, the Czech national carrier, up for sale by the Czech government. According to the French daily La Tribune, the airline could offer as much as 200 million euros for the 91.5 percent stake - the equivalent of 5.6 billion crowns (or around 255 million US dollars). A spokesperson for Air France-KLM on Wednesday said the company was looking carefully into the sale but did not confirm the amount of the potential bid. The Czech government is hoping to announce a buyer by September 30. Others firms interested in ČSA include Aeroflot and reportedly also Lufthansa.
The Christian Democratic Party has proposed a bill for a constitutional amendment reducing the number of MPs from 200 to 199 to preclude the possibility of a deadlock. The bill, which also would permit direct election of the president, is to be discussed by the coalition next week.
A new survey released by pollsters Factum Invenio has suggested that 67 percent of Czechs approve of their government’s handling of the European presidency. Some 20 percent feel the opposite is true. The Czech Republic took over the rotating EU presidency from France at the start of the year, and will turn it over to Sweden in July. The EU presidency entails organising and chairing the meetings of the Council of the European Union, the main decision-making body of the EU.
The District Court in Plzeň has handed down a three-year suspended sentence to two police officers for the accidental death of an Uzbek man last August. The foreigner suffered a head injury after being thrown out of a bar by the policemen, but did not receive proper treatment at a local hospital and died two days later. The officers had faced up to 15 years in prison for manslaughter in the case; one of them has made clear he will not appeal the decision.
A branch office of ČSOB bank in Třebíč, in the Czech-Moravian highlands, was robbed on Wednesday afternoon. According to available information, the disguised perpetrator, a lone individual armed with a pistol, left the bank on foot with several hundred thousand crowns. No one was injured in the incident.
The Czech veterinarian authority has denied accusations that Czech breeders exported dozens of common rats infected with cowpox to France and Germany. In January, 20 rats with the infection were detected in German pet shops. Later, nine more cases were discovered in France. Local authorities say all the animals came from a Czech wholesale company. The Czech veterinarian body said on Tuesday they had inspected several facilities from which the rats had allegedly come, and found no animals infected with the disease.
Hundreds of geese at a farm in the Hodonín area in the south-east of the country will be destroyed on Wednesday to contain the risk of H7 bird flu from spreading. A kilometre-wide safety perimeter will also be set up around the area by vets. A local official said that a humane method method would be used to put the birds down. Other specimens, meanwhile, are still being tested for signs of the disease. The H7 bird flu is considered far less dangerous than the H5N1 strain, which can be deadly to humans.
Maintenance work on a water treatment plant in Vítkov near Opava, in the north-east of the country, has caused the third chloride leakage. Hydrogen chloride leaked from a cargo barrel, apparently after the vehicle carrying it stopped short to avoid a pedestrian. 300 people were evacuated on Tuesday when chorine gas escaped from the plant.
DVD sales in the Czech Republic have reached their highest level since the market release of the format in 1997. Shops and video rental stores recorded a record 3.3 million digital video disks sold in 2008, which marks a 13 percent rise compared to the year 2007. While there was significant increase in the number of DVDs bought in shops, the video rental industry has declined drastically, purchasing 48% less films than the year before.
Czech hockey forward Tomáš Plekanec is continuing to show good form, notching up one goal and one assist in the Montreal Canadiens 3:0 win on Tuesday over the Vancouver Canucks. The forward has now racked up six goals – and four assists - in six games.
In other action, Milan Hejduk scored twice for the Colorado Avalanche, defeated 4:3 by Atlanta. The Nashville Predators’ Martin Erat, meanwhile, earned three assists to help his team come from behind to win 5:3 over Chicago.
Conditions on Thursday are expected to be mostly cloudy with a chance of rain, as well as snow in places. Daytime temperatures are expected to reach around 4 degrees Celsius.
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