The Czech government has approved the draft European Constitution and decided that Prime Minister Stanislav Gross and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda will sign the document at this Friday's ceremony in Rome. President Vaclav Klaus, who has been very critical of the document, refused to sign it. The ratification process of the document has not been decided as of yet, but it is expected that a referendum on the draft will be held.
Czech intelligence services are examining three anti-tank rocket launchers that were found in the Vltava River in recent days, in view of a possible terrorist link. Divers on an exercise found the weapons by accident. Experts are now examining them to determine how long they were in the river and if they were operational. Their manufacturing numbers suggest that they did not come from Czech military arsenals. In October 2001 a rocket launcher of the same type was found near Prague's Ruzyne Airport, about a kilometre from the main runway. Police do not know how it came to be there.
Czech psychiatrist Jan Pfeiffer was among 29 people to receive Time magazine's European 'Hero of the Year' award in London on Tuesday night for his work to reform the Czech mental heath care system. Dr Pfeiffer, a prominent defender of patients' rights, helped lead a campaign to abolish the use of caged and netted beds in Czech institutions.
News that the government may sell phone operator Cesky Telecom via the capital market sent the stock and Prague indices tumbling on Wednesday, the bourse said. The PSE's main index PX 50 shed 1.47 percent and the blue-chip index PX-D lost 1.42 percent. Telecom shares finally fell 5.23 percent to 315 crowns. Brokers have said a sale of the government's 51 percent share on stock exchanges would mean a considerable increase in supply on the market, the Czech news agency reported, and this made investors offload the stock.
Police at the weekend seized 25 kilograms of high-grade heroin from Turkey during a sting operation in Teplice, north Bohemia. Authorities from the customs directorate told journalists on Wednesday that the heroin was 96 percent pure and was destined for the German market. Turkish, Macedonian and Czech nationals were arrested in the police sting.
Tests have confirmed a fifteenth case of BSE or "mad cow" disease in the Czech Republic. The infected cow is from a farm in the Svitava region in the eastern part of the country and vets say that 50 other heads of cattle may have to be put down within the prescribed safety measures. The first case of BSE in the Czech Republic was detected in June of 2001 when the State Veterinary Office imposed strict measures regarding animal breeding, cattle feed and the sale and import of meat and meat products.
The Cabinet has approved a bill prepared by the Finance Ministry in line with EU legislation that would impose more state supervision of financial groups active in the Czech Republic. If adopted by Parliament and signed into law by the Czech president, banks, insurance companies and securities dealers owned by conglomerates would also come under greater supervision.
Thursday, a national holiday in the Czech Republic, should be partly cloudy with daytime highs of 18 degrees Celsius.
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