President Vaclav Havel has appointed Eliska Wagnerova deputy chairwoman of the Constitutional Court, despite protests from the Justice Minister Jaroslav Bures and the opposition Civic Democrats. Minister Bures said Mrs Wagnerova, previously chairwoman of the Supreme Court, did not have sufficient authority in the Czech legal system for the post. The opposition Civic Democrats have criticised Mr Havel for failing to consult the appointment with the Justice Minister.
The government's investment agency CzechInvest said on Wednesday there was a 9 percent increase in foreign direct investment last year, largely thanks to the expanding electronics and car industries. CzechInvest said FDI reached 4.9 billion dollars in 2001, compared with 4.5 billion dollars in the previous year but still short of the record 6.3 billion dollars worth of foreign investment in 1999. CzechInvest Director Martin Jahn said his country "almost certainly" had the highest FDI per capita of any East European country last year.
The lower house has approved a government-proposed amendment to a law extending supervision over the export of goods which could be misused for military purposes. The law still has to be passed by the Senate and signed by President Havel. Trade and Industry Minister Miroslav Gregr said the amendment was aimed at strengthening measures to prevent military conflicts and reduce access to strategic weapons.
A government report released on Wednesday says drug traffickers in the Czech Republic are moving into quiet villages, where they can use mobile phones and the Internet without being noticed by the police. The report said traffickers were also setting up laboratories in villages to manufacture amphetamines and other synthetic drugs. It said the new strategies helped to explain why some 80 percent of the drug trade, including cross-Europe transit shipments through the Czech Republic, went undetected last year.
Government inspectors have halted sales of three brands of herbal pills designed to stimulate male libido, help smokers kick the habit and treat arthritis. The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspectorate said the herbal supplements contained dangerous amounts of heavy metals including mercury, lead and cadmium. The inspectorate also asked police to seek criminal charges against a U.S.-based company that markets the products, which include the Viagra-like stimulant Masclione, a treatment for nicotine addiction called Nikorol, and an arthritis-relief pill called Arthrin.
A court in Prague has rejected an appeal by a 20-year-old female student sentenced to 13 years in prison last year for murdering a German tourist. Vladimira Cermakova and two male accomplices were found guilty of killing and robbing the man in a garage in the western town of Tachov in September 2000.
The Minister of Education, Eduard Zeman, has written to the U.S. authorities to complain about airport security checks during his trip to the Winter Olympics last month. Mr Zeman said the strict security measures - including shoe checks and several searches of his personal briefcase - were excessive because he carries a diplomatic passport. Speaking to the Lidove Noviny newspaper, Mr Zeman said he was upset after being forced to walk onto planes in his socks.
And finally a look at the weather. There'll be more overcast and rainy weather on Thursday, as a band of low pressure continues to move across the Czech Republic from the west. Temperatures at night will fall to lows of three degrees Celsius, rising in the daytime to highs of eleven degrees.
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