The Czech Republic has joined a UN Security Council resolution lifting the sanctions imposed on Iraq in 1990 and supporting the renewal of the country. The government-proposed bill was signed on Thursday by President Vaclav Klaus. Among other things, the bill bans the import and export of artefacts that are part of the Iraqi cultural heritage, have a historic, cultural, archaeological, scientific or religious significance or have been stolen from Iraqi cultural institutions.
The Czech Statistics Office has reported that in the first three quarters of 2004 the number of Czech citizens rose by 4,000 to 10,216,000. The reason was an increase in immigration from Ukraine and Vietnam. Compared to the same period last year, the number of newborn babies, marriages and divorces also increased in 2004 but the death and abortion rates were lower this year.
The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, has taken over the symbolic Bethlehem Light from scouts in St Vitus Cathedral at Prague Castle. Cardinal Vlk said he believes that along with the flame lit at the birthplace of Jesus Christ, people bring home love and respect for one another. Until Christmas Eve people can come to light their own candles in the cathedral and also in the lobby of the Czech Radio building in Prague. The Bethlehem Light tradition was established by the Austrian radio station ORF in 1986. In the Czech Republic, this tradition started after the collapse of Communism in 1989. The Bethlehem Light is protected and distributed all over the country by scouts and Czech Radio employees.
One of the country's most infamous murderers, Jiri Straka, also known as the "Spartakiada killer", has been released after almost 19 years spent in prison and mental institutions. The state prosecution in the town of Opava waived its right to appeal against Tuesday's decision of the town's court which agreed to a request by Jiri Straka that his status be changed from inmate to out-patient. At the age of 16 Mr Straka murdered and raped three women and attempted to kill two others in Prague during the 1985 Spartakiada, a communist-era mass gymnastics event.
A Prague court has sentenced a man to 4.5 years in prison for knowingly spreading a communicable disease. According to the court, Rudolf Novak, who is HIV positive, had unprotected sex with at least 10 partners over the course of two years, although he was aware of his condition. Mr Novak's lawyer said that none of his client's partners had been infected.
The whole of Christmas should be partly cloudy with occasional rain or snow. Daytime temperatures should range from 2 to 6 degrees Celsius.
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