A Czech wanted for illegal arms trade has been arrested in Liberia. Dalibor Kopp who was charged with illegal export of ammunition to Iraq was detained by UN peacekeeping forces on the basis of an international arrest warrant this week and was brought to a court in Liberia on Wednesday. Kopp fled the Czech Republic at the end of December to avoid prosecution. In 1995 he held talks with Arab traders on the export of ammunition to the Middle East. To cover up the deal, the ammunition was bought by a company in Yemen which subsequently sold it to Iraq.
Prague mayor Pavel Bem was ripped off by a taxi driver who failed to recognize him in a tourist disguise. The Mlada Fronta Dnes daily, which has been waging a campaign against dishonest Prague taxi drivers, persuaded the mayor to dye his hair black, slick it back and put on a pair of expensive sunglasses, before jumping into the nearest city taxi. Asking for a short ride in Prague's city centre the mayor found himself in a taxi with a rigged meter and was subsequently charged six times the normal rate. The driver faces a steep fine and in the event of re-offending he could lose his permit.
The government is planning to reduce mortgage support for people with higher incomes. Local Development Minister Jiri Paroubek told journalists on Friday that tax deductibles on mortgage loans would not be abolished, as previously planned, but just reduced. Currently people can deduct up to 300, 000 crowns annually from their tax base, a level of state support that Paroubek considers to be "overly generous". The planned changes should come into effect as of January 2006. In mid 2003, Czechs had 117 thousand mortgage loans to the tune of 128 billion crowns.
The Ostrava state attorney on Friday released from custody four former managers of the bankrupt Union Banka. They have been charged with breach of trust in property administration and granting disadvantageous loans, which stripped the bank of three billion crowns. The state attorney said that the three months custody period had expired and there was no longer reason to fear that they would try to influence witnesses. According to investigators, the bank managers granted risky loans to their friends in the period between 1999 and 2003. If convicted, they face a sentence of up to eight years in prison.
Two Czech drug dealers who were sentenced to 50 years in prison in Thailand for smuggling heroin, now hope to be released on the grounds of an amnesty declared there last year. The two men each spent several years in a Thai prison before being transferred to a Czech prison last year. One of the men is reported to be in seriously bad health.
Saturday is expected to be partly cloudy to overcast with light snow showers and day temperatures between 3 and minus 1 degrees Celsius.
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