Czech soldiers who are part of the Czech peacekeeping mission to be sent to Afghanistan in the new year spent the holidays at home, although the Czech Army says that all soldiers who are part of the mission are within contact. 120 soldiers are expected to take part in the peace mission which is being headed by Great Britain: according to army officials the exact date of the departure of the mission is still uncertain. The Czech Republic has offered its NATO allies a special forces unit, an anti-chemical unit, a field hospital, and a TU-154 passenger plane. So far only the TU-154 has been put into use, making 24 separate flights and spending 36 hours in the air so far.
Tomas Rosicky has been named Czech footballer of the year, becoming, at 21, the youngest player to have won the award in the competition's 36 year history. Rosicky plays for German club Borussia Dortmund and is known as a highly creative play-maker; runners-up in the competition were Italian side Juventus's Pavel Nedved, and home side Sparta's Jiri Jarosik.
President Vaclav Havel is expected to pre-record his annual New Year's speech at the Prague Castle Friday; the Czech Republic's national public television station is planning to broadcast the full 25 minutes of the speech at 13 00 hours local time on January 1st. The speech is not expected to be shortened as a result of the president's recent health problems, which have involved a serious bout of pneumonia.
A court judge in Prague has ruled that there is longer any need for lawyer Ales Rozehnal to remain in custody, as he awaits trial in connection with charges of fraud. The charges are connected to Mr Rozehnal's business dealings with Vladimir Zelezny, the head of one of the Czech Republic's commercial television stations TV NOVA. Rozehnal was remanded in custody on November 7th, for fear he might influence witnesses in the case, or that he might even flee the country. State prosecutors have three days to appeal the decision, before the court officially sets bail.
Czech archaeologists have uncovered an ancient site in Radotin, Prague, dating back to the Bronze Age. The site is estimated to be from 1000 BC, but beneath it there is another settlement which is even older. Archaeologists have found minerals, pottery, and human remains, as well as the outlines of the site. They say that the discovery of the minerals is evidence that the previous inhabitants had contact with the outside world, because the minerals are not normally found in the region.
Thirty five people were evacuated Wednesday from an apartment building in the southern town of Ceske Budejovice, after an unknown attacker set the building's elevator on fire. The arsonist used a pile of junk mail to set off the blaze, which quickly spread to several floors. One woman was treated for smoke inhalation poisoning. Damages to the building are estimated at 100, 000 crowns.
Czech Railways has announced that the cost of train passes are expected to go up by an average of 7 percent as of January 27th 2002. Passes are used by 80 percent of Czech Railways passengers. Single ticket prices are expected to be raised by as much as 60 percent. Czech Railways has raised its prices every year since 1992.
A man charged in connection with a June attack on police investigator Vladimir Machala has received an additional, unrelated charge of robbery. The suspect, a guard in a Bingo games room in Prague, has been remanded in custody. The June attack on Vladimir Machala received extensive media attention because the police investigator suggested it could have been related to the ongoing investigation into the business dealings of Czech media magnate Vladimir Zelezny. Mr Machala is the head of that investigation, which has charged Mr Zelezny with attempting to cheat a creditor. So far no evidence has revealed any connection between Mr Zelezny and the June incident.
And finally a look at the weather: recent days had seen the Czech Republic swamped by rain and snowfall, leading to impassable roads and icy conditions, but meteorologists now say that conditions will grow milder leading up to New Year's Eve. Friday will be cloudy with a possibility of rainfall and snow flurries and temperatures will hover at around 4 degrees Celsius. The possibility of icy conditions remains. Night time temperatures will fall to -8 degrees Celsius.
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Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott
Thousands pay tribute to deceased national pop icon Karel Gott