Czech to face trial for murder of female student in Sweden

A state attorney from the Swedish town of Uppsala has revealed that a 29-year-old Czech suspect currently in custody will be charged on Friday in connection with the murder of a 24-year-old Czech female student in Uppsala last year. The young woman, who was studying in Sweden in an exchange programme, was found dead by her boyfriend on a visit at the Easter holidays. The suspect now to be charged fell under suspicion shortly after the murder. The 29-year-old Czech, who was also studying in Sweden, has denied any part in the crime. However, Swedish authorities say they have samples of the man's DNA found on the victim's body. The murder is said to have been both brutal and sexually-motivated; if found guilty the suspect could face life imprisonment.

Defence minister: Czech military needs balance and specialisation

Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has said he wants the Czech military to retain its current balance with regards to army units, while seeing a strengthening of specialisation fields. Speaking in the Senate on Wednesday on army reforms and defence policy, the defence minister stressed that smaller, well-equipped and more flexible and mobile units were desired over less wieldy forces. The minister also spoke about the role of NATO allies in case of emergency, stressing that each NATO country still had to be able to rely on its own abilities. Speaking of the necessary military reforms Mr Kostelka said it was essential to find necessary funds for modernisation and training by lowering expenditures for wages for soldiers and civilian employees, as well as reducing the number of garrisons in the Czech Republic.

German & Czech police break-up smuggling gang

According to the German Interior Ministry German and Czech police broke up a gang on Wednesday illegally smuggling Chinese and Vietnamese migrants into Germany, migrants looking for low-paid jobs in the restaurant trade or so-called "sweatshops". Two Vietnamese nationals were detained on suspicion of people-trafficking in raids on five properties and businesses around Leipzig, eastern Germany, the ministry revealed. Another nine people were arrested in the Czech Republic, where evidence was also seized. The smuggling ring is thought to have smuggled more than 200 people into Germany in all.

Prague wants to join European diplomatic activities in Middle East

The Czech Foreign Ministry has said it is ready to take part in diplomatic activities in the Middle East. During a working visit to Berlin on Tuesday the Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Jan Winkler discussed a German plan to stabilize the Middle East that includes the Czech Republic's participation. The Czech embassy in Tel Aviv will reportedly work as a NATO contact embassy.

Government stops sale of Severoceske doly mine

The internet server Euro OnLine and the country's news agency CTK reported on Wednesday that the government had stopped the sale of the brown-coal mining company Severoceske doly, or North Bohemian Mines, even though Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had proposed launching talks with the J & T company. As a result Severoceske doly will remain state-owned. Meanwhile, another brown-coal mining company Sokolovska uhelna, will be sold off: the government is in negotiations with one company, Sokolovaska tezebni, over the final bid.

Komarek takes full control of Fischer travel

Czech businessman Karel Komarek, majority owner of Fischer Travel, the firm originally founded by entrepreneur Vaclav Fischer, has gained firm control of the company for now. At a meeting of company shareholders Wednesday Mr Komarek pushed through a raise in Fischer Travel's share capital from 1 million to 11 million crowns. Vaclav Fischer, who did not take part in the share raise, loses influence over company operation for the time being. In the future minority shareholders Vaclav Fischer and Karel Komarek's capital group K & K will be able to raise the company's share level to increase their stakes to the level prior to Wednesday's general meeting, but Vaclav Fischer will be left without influence unless he raises far higher sums than he would have needed on Wednesday. New shareholder the K & K group has plans to still raise the company's share capital to 500 million crowns in 2004, while securing financing worth 500 million for the company's development.

Fire kills two in workers' hostel

Officials have reported that a fire that swept through a workers' hostel in the Czech Republic's second largest city Brno on Wednesday killed two residents. Six others were injured, while two remain unaccounted for. The blaze broke out before dawn. The hostel houses some 50 workers, many from neighbouring Slovakia or Ukraine. So far the cause of the fire remains unknown


Thursday is expected to be cloudy with some sunny intervals and daytime temperatures of about 1 degree Celsius.