President Vaclav Klaus has signed the law giving the Interior and Defence Ministries the right to trade directly in military materials without an intermediary, the presidential office said on Thursday. The new law on the trade in military equipment, as well as other related laws, will make it possible to conclude the contract for the proposed lease of 14 Jas-39 Gripen supersonic fighter jets between the Czech and Swedish defence ministries without needing a Czech firm to serve as intermediary. On Wednesday, the government postponed discussion of the drafts of contracts related to the Gripen lease for a week. A Defence Ministry spokesman said that if the government concludes its discussion successfully next week, the contract with Sweden could be signed within three to five days.
According to a law signed on Thursday by President Vaclav Klaus, the gross salary of each of the 24 Czech European Parliament members will be 65,000 crowns (around 2,000 euros). The salary of the MEPs, whom the Czech voters will elect on June 11-12, is 18,500 crowns higher than that of their counterparts in the Czech Parliament and almost four times higher than the average monthly salary in the Czech Republic. There are significant differences between the salaries of Euro-MPs from individual countries. At the moment, the best paid are the Italians with 11,780 euros, and the worst paid are Spanish MEPs with 2,540 euros.
The Czech mobile phone operator Cesky Mobil has filed a lawsuit against its two rivals, Eurotel and T-Mobile, asking 1.6 billion crowns in compensation for damage linked to different prices they charged. Cesky Mobil said the other two operators charged lower prices for calls to their networks and higher prices for calls to the Cesky Mobil network. A Cesky Mobil spokesman said the lawsuit followed a decision made by the anti-monopoly office in 2002, when Eurotel and T-Mobile were fined a total of 63 million crowns for price differences. Czech mobile operators now have 9.9 million clients together. The Czech population is 10.2 million.
A court in the city of Brno has ruled that three former students of the Technical University in Brno have to apologise to the former head of the faculty branch of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Jan Snasel, for having criticised him in written form during the 1989 Velvet Revolution. Mr Snasel sued the three students for slander but the case has been dragging for 13 years. The former students said they were not going to apologise and they were going to appeal.
The Czech fuel retailer Benzina said on Thursday that it disagreed with the fine it was ordered to pay by the anti-monopoly office for setting up a cartel agreement with five other distributors. The anti-monopoly office on Tuesday confirmed its March decision, according to which six Czech fuel distributors are to pay a total of 313 million crowns (almost 10 million euros). The office said the fuel retailers acted together to set prices of the top-selling petrol Natural 95 between May and November 2001. The six companies control about 35 percent of petrol stations and 40 percent of the volume of fuels sold on the Czech market.
The Czech Republic's football team have beaten Bulgaria 3:1 in Prague in a warm-up game ahead of the European Championships in Portugal. Wednesday evening's match took place in pouring rain and saw goals from Milan Baros, Jaroslav Plasil and Tomas Rosicky. After the game it was announced that Miroslav Matusovic had not been included in the 23-man Czech squad for Euro 2004.
Sparta Prague football club has been bought by the Slovak financial group J & T for around 900 million Czech crowns. The company becomes the fifth owner of the Czech Republic's best-known club since 1989. It is expected that manager Frantisek Straka will be kept on at Sparta.
Friday should be partly cloudy with occasional rain. Daytime temperatures are expected to range from 15 to 18 degrees Celsius.
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