Daily news summary News

29-03-2006

Dead swan had deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu

British scientists have confirmed that a dead swan found in the Czech Republic on Saturday did have the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu. It is the country's first case of the virus. On Wednesday a second dead swan infected with bird flu was found three or four kilometres from where the first was discovered in Hluboka, south Bohemia. Special veterinary measures have been introduced in 3- and 10-km zones around Hluboka in line with EU rules.

Rivers continue to rise, floods claim first victim

Rivers in the Czech Republic are continuing to rise, with around 70 places in the country on high flood alert. The worst affected areas are in the Znojmo region, on the River Luznice in south Bohemia and on the River Morava in the Zlin region. Fire fighters and the army are working around the clock to try to deal with the situation.

One person has died: a five-year-old boy fell into a stream and drowned near Trebic on Tuesday evening.

The Spolana chemical plant in Neratovice, central Bohemia has shut down production, after a high flood alert was declared in the area. Tens of tonnes of poisonous chemicals escaped from the plant during floods in 2002.

There were fears that animals would have to be moved from the lower part of Prague Zoo, but officials say it now seems such an evacuation will not be necessary.

Government approves financial support for Belarus opposition

The Czech Republic is to give opposition groups in Belarus over 800,000 US dollars in financial support, Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda announced after a government meeting on Wednesday. The aid is to be spent on study grants for expelled students, the provision of information from outside the country, Czech-Belarus NGOs and health care for persecuted citizens of the country. The European Union described recent presidential elections in Belarus as neither free nor fair.

Dispute as official says police will investigate baby-box mothers

The head of the Fund for Children in Need, Marie Vodickova, has filed criminal charges against a police official, Alena Plskova, who said the force would search for women who leave their babies in baby-boxes. Ms Plskova said the mother's identity had to be established in case the baby's parents were addicted to drugs or alcohol. But Ms Vodickova said the police should catch criminals, not unfortunate mothers who had a serious reason to give up their child. She said the loss of anonymity might put some mothers off using the baby-boxes.

Straka not to stand for Christian Democrats due to citizenship

Former football player and manager Frantisek Straka will not stand for the Christian Democrats in June's general elections. Mr Straka holds German citizenship and needed to acquire Czech citizenship by the deadline for submitting his candidature on Tuesday. The interior minister, Frantisek Bublan, says he personally approved Czech citizenship for Mr Straka, though Christian Democrat leader Miroslav Kalousek says the fact it was not granted in time amounted to interfering with the elections.

Defence official arrested on suspicion of corruption

Another official at the Ministry of Defence has been arrested. The ministry's spokesman said the man in question worked in the armaments department and is suspected of leaking classified information. A Czech Army colonel was arrested at the end of January after being caught allegedly accepting a large bribe from the head of a private company.

Pensioner escapes prison after injuring thief with home-made device

An old-age pensioner who injured a thief will not go to prison, Mlada fronta Dnes reported. Oldrich Doskocil, who is 77, created a home-made gun system which was set off when a man tried to break into Mr Doskocil's unoccupied cottage. The thief was shot in the knee and spent a month recovering in hospital. A court in Pilsen ruled that the shooting constituted self defence.

Number in Czech prisons up

The number of inmates in Czech prisons reached a four-year high of almost 19,000 in 2005, according to a report by the Prison Authority. Many Czech prisons are overcrowded and the Ministry of Justice lacks the funds to build new facilities; however, there are plans to build one private prison.

Stepanek out of Miami Open

Czech tennis number one Radek Stepanek has been beaten in the fourth round of the Nasdaq-100 Open in Miami. World number 16 Stepanek went out 3-6 4-6 to David Nalbandian of Argentina; he had earlier knocked out another Czech, Tomas Berdych.

Meanwhile, the Czech Tennis Association said they had tried in vain to persuade Stepanek to play for the Czech team in the second round of the Davis Cup's Euro/African Zone Group against Morocco in April. Last year the player refused to play in the Davis Cup, saying he wanted to concentrate on his own career.

Jagr equals two club records

Czech ice hockey player Jaromir Jagr has equalled two records at his club the New York Rangers. Jagr's 52 goals so far this season match the previous best at the club, while his 109 points - including goals and assists - also equals a Rangers record. The Czech leads the NHL players points table with ten games of the regular season left.

Weather

It should be quite bright over the next few days, though more rainfall is expected. Temperatures are set to reach up to 16 degrees Celsius.

29-03-2006