Daily news summary News

14-06-2005

Czech president backs Ukraine efforts for integration

Czech President Vaclav Klaus, on an official visit to Kiev has backed Ukraine's efforts at integration with the European Union and NATO. Meeting with his counterpart Viktor Yushchenko on Tuesday Mr Klaus said he hoped the process would not take too long. The Czech president also stated that the Czech Republic was ready to help Ukraine on its path. Ukraine's president, meanwhile, said his country aimed for EU admission as soon as possible. But, he stressed the matter depended first on whether the Ukrainian government and Parliament would be able to push through necessary reforms.

Health minister confident gov't will back plan

Health Minister Milada Emmerova, of the ruling Social Democrats, has expressed confidence that the government will back her proposal for health care reform on Wednesday. At the same time, she has made clear that even if the plan - which covers the period between 2005 to 2009 - is rejected she has no intention of stepping down. At the beginning of the week hospitals, employee representatives, and employers in the health care sector, rejected her reform concept, which includes a debt bail-out of the Czech Republic's largest health insurance company.

Justice Minister questioned by police

Justice Minister Pavel Nemec was questioned by police for an hour or so on Tuesday in connection with steps he took in the case of a Qatari royal charged with - and later found guilty of - sexually abusing underaged girls. Originally, Mr Nemec aimed to have the case handed over to Qatar, a controversial move found suspect by chief state prosecutor Marie Benesova. She ordered an investigation into the matter. So far police have questioned several witnesses, but have refused to release additional details.

District mayor explains financing behind 8.4 million crown flat

The mayor of Prague 4, Zdenek Hovorka, has after weeks of delay offered an explanation on how he financed the purchase of a flat costing 8.4 million crowns, the equivalent of 350, 000 US dollars. Mr Hovorka has said he paid for the flat with funds that came from the sale of valuable paintings given to him by his father. Questions over the mayor's apartment first surfaced in April, but he had refused to offer any information till now. Politicians' personal finances have come under media scrutiny in recent months following a scandal earlier in the year that forced former prime minister Stanislav Gross to step down.

Prague court rules in critic's favour

Following a recent decision by the Constitutional Court, a Prague high court has ruled that music critic Jan Rejzek will not have to apologise to Czech pop singer Helena Vondrackova for comments made in newspaper article in the year 2000. In the article Mr Rejek suggested the pop singer's success after 1989 was tied to what he called "Mafiosi" from 1970s Communist Czechoslovakia. Mrs Vondrackova expressed anger over the Constitutional Court ruling in March, saying she had been the target of defamation and lies. She has already said she will take her case to the European Court of Human Rights.

17-month-old baby survives three story fall

A 17-month-old baby survived a three-story fall from an apartment window on Tuesday, apparently without injury. The accident took place early in the morning, with the little girl was taken to hospital for observation. Police are investing the cause of the accident including the possibility of negligence on the side of the parents.

Stewart cancels Prague date

The legendary British singer Rod Stewart has cancelled just days before he was due to perform in Prague for the very first time. One of the organisers on Tuesday revealed Mr Stewart changed his itinerary without giving a reason. Interest in the singer's music in Prague was said to be high, after organisers moved the planned concert to a larger venue. Fans will be given refunds for their tickets bought.

Cech wins Golden Ball

National squad goalkeeper Petr Cech has won the Golden Ball, voted best Czech footballer. The award is given every year by Czech journalists. 23-year-old Petr Cech replaces five-time winner Pavel Nedved, who came in 2nd. Among coaches this year, national squad coach Karel Bruckner came first, recognised for leading the national side strongly so far in its quest for the World Cup.

Weather

The next couple of days are expected to see thunder showers with daytime temperatures of around 20 to 24 degrees Celsius.

14-06-2005