The Czech President Vaclav Havel has been sent home after three days in hospital with irregular heartbeat. The president left for his official country residence at Lany Castle, in order to resume his work schedule straight away. Mr Havel, who is 64, was taken ill on Monday just before he was due to begin a state visit to Italy. This is not the first time that the president has had such problems, usually in connection with stress and bronchial infections. In the past he has undergone successful surgery for lung cancer.
The Czech authorities have dramatically stepped up security at the headquarters of the American funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty in the centre of Prague. Four armed transporters are being stationed around the building, and traffic has been diverted. The decision was taken at a special security meeting attended by senior Czech ministers. The Interior Minister, Stanislav Gross, said he had information suggesting that the building was a potential terrorist target. At the same security meeting a special group was set up to monitor and analyze suspicious financial transactions that could be connected with terrorist organisations. The new group will include officials from the police, the intelligence services and the Czech National Bank.
And on a related note, the Interior Minister has said that a Czech citizen may in the past have helped extremist groups in Afghanistan. He said that the Czech intelligence service had monitored the man's associations with such groups, and added that he was currently not on Czech territory. Mr Gross stressed that there was no evidence that the man had any direct links with extremist training camps in Afghanistan. The minister's comments came in response to reports received by the United Nations Security Council from Russian intelligence sources, claiming that several Czech citizens were working at camps run by Osama bin Laden.
A well-known Romany businessman and local government official, Milan Horvat, has said that relations between the Roma minority and the majority can only improve if more Romanies become engaged in local politics. Mr Horvat is a member of the town council in Lysa nad Labem near Prague, and he was speaking after being handed an award for his work in supporting local initiatives in the community. He was instrumental in setting up a local Romany Association, which now has over a hundred adult members, and has played a significant role in reducing local ethnic tensions.
The European Court of Justice in Luxembourg has reached an ambiguous verdict in connection with an appeal by two Czech citizens who claimed they had been discriminated by the British authorities. The two Czechs, who had been declined asylum in Britain, had applied to stay in the country in order to do business there, but were denied a residence permit. The court ruled that no European Union state was allowed to discriminate against EU candidate countries whose citizens wish to do business within the Union, but confirmed that the British authorities had acted within their rights. EU countries are fully entitled to check whether an applicant's business plans are realistic and whether he or she has sufficient financial backing.
Following an appeal, a high court in Prague has sentenced the former Czech tennis professional, Milan Srejber, to five years in jail. The sentence is slightly more lenient than that earlier handed out by a local court. The tennis-star-turned-businessman was convicted on charges of misusing commercial information, when he speculated on the stock exchange on the basis of insider knowledge. Srejber's defence lawyer has claimed that the verdict breaks the law. He said that he would appeal to the Justice Minister himself.
And finally, a glance at the weather. We can expect the overcast, gloomy weather to stay with us on Friday, but in the course of the weekend skies should clear and temperatures may creep up to a mild 21 degrees.
Karel Gott to get funeral with state honours as singer’s death is mourned at home and abroad
Beijing ends agreement with Prague – but can spat harm Czech capital?
Czech pop music legend Karel Gott dies at the age of 80
Karel Gott’s Mona Lisa to be put up for auction
Czechs observe day of mourning for pop idol Karel Gott