News

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Body of a Czech soldier killed in Afghanistan returns to the Czech Republic

The body of a Czech soldier killed in a suicide bombing in Afghanistan this week has been repatriated. The first Czech soldier to be killed in action was a victim of a suicide bomber in southern Afghanistan on Monday. He will be promoted in memoriam to the rank of lieutenant. The Defence Minister, Vlasta Parkanová, will also bestow on him the Cross of Merit of the highest degree.

Two other Czech soldiers were injured in on Monday, one of them seriously. The attack killed ten other NATO soldiers, all of whom were part of a special anti-terrorist unit within the NATO-led International Security Assistance Forces operating in the country.

Traffic between Prague and Brno resumes

Traffic on a motorway connecting Prague and Brno resumed on Friday morning following a massive pile-up caused by a snowstorm a day earlier. A total of 116 cars crashed on Thursday in what was the biggest chain accident in the country’s history. Some 20, 000 people got stuck along the motorway in both directions; 40 km of the road had to be closed down. 30 people, including ten foreigners, were injured in the accident. Bad weather continues to complicate traffic across the country.

Czechs and Vietnamese to cooperate against visa problems

The Czech Republic and Vietnam are likely to set up an expert group dealing with problems related to issuing work visas to the Czech Republic. Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has announced the plan after meeting his counterpart Nguyen Tan Dung during his three-day visit to Vietnam. The expert group should deal with petty crime such as forging documents in order to prevent unregulated and unchecked immigration. The number of Vietnamese applicants for long-term visas in the Czech Republic keeps increasing. In 2006 the Foreign Ministry registered over 7,000; last year the figure rose to over 14, 000.

Czech firms plan huge investments in Vietnam

Czech businessmen accompanying Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek during his visit to Vietnam are planning to invest dozens of billions of crowns in local economy. Škoda Praha, a unit of Czech electricity producer ČEZ, wants to build a coal-fired power station. Czech Export Bank and state-run Vietindebank will provide funding worth 956 million USD to finance infrastructure and beverage projects in Vietnam. The largest loan worth 720 million USD would go to construction of a highway in southern Vietnam.

Václav Havel calls for pressure on China over Tibet

Former president Václav Havel and Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg among six personalities who signed a statement calling on the international community to increase pressure on China in connection with the protests in Tibet. Other signatories include former South African president Frederik de Klerk, Japanese philanthropist Yohei Sasakawa, Jordanian prince Hassan bin Talal and French philosopher Andre Gluckmann. All of them are associated with the debate meeting Forum 2000, annually held in Prague and organised by Mr Havel. The statement calls on the Chinese government to enter into a dialogue with Tibetan people and release those who were arrested.

Social Democrats propose to lower criminal liability

Czech Social Democrats propose to lower criminal liability in case of a murder, brutal attack and other violent crime from 15 to 14 years. The current age level for less serious offence should remain the same. According to Social Democratic deputy Jeroným Tejc the number of young people committing heavy crimes has been on the rise and the new penal code should reflect this change. The party has also proposed to give children over 14 the right to decide with which of their parents they want to stay with in case they divorce.

Outlawed Union of Communist Youth to stage congress in Prague

The Union of Communist Youth will stage a congress in Prague at the weekend even though the group was banned by the Ministry of the Interior. The group was dissolved in October 2006 because of calls in its manifesto for the revolutionary overthrow of the capitalist system and the nationalisation of all property. The Interior Ministry argued that such demands contravened the Czech Republic’s charter of fundamental rights and freedoms. The Union filed a complaint against the decision but the Prague City Court on Wednesday rejected the appeal.

Debate on pig farm in Lety to be resumed next year

The Czech government might resume the debate on the controversial pig farm built on the site of a wartime concentration camp for Romanies in Lety, south Bohemia. The Minister in charge of human right and minorities, Džamila Stehlíková, said the government will decide on alternative solutions that should be drafted by the end of this year. Romany organizations have been calling for the farm's relocation for many years. The Czech authorities were also repeatedly reprimanded by the European Parliament over the issue. According to historical documents, more than 1,300 people were interned at Lety; over 300 died there, while 500 more later met their deaths at Auschwitz.

Mladá Boleslav bans drinking in public places

The Central Bohemian town of Mladá Boleslav has restricted drinking in the municipality’s public spaces. It is one of several towns to have now done so. The Czech Interior Ministry in February approved a proposal to ban drinking put forward by the North Bohemian town of Ústí nad Labem, setting an important legal precedent. Other towns, such as Hradec Králové, are also considering introducing a drinking-ban to counter the problem of drunks and homeless people in the public spaces.

Two Czechs rescued from avalanche in Krkonoše

Two Czechs were trapped under an avalanche in the Krkonoše or Giant Mountains in North Bohemia. They were discovered by the mountain rescue service and taken to hospital. The last few days have seen an additional 60 centimetres of new snow in Giant Mountains. The mountain rescue service has warned against increased risk of avalanche following additional snowfall, windy conditions, and poor visibility.

Weather

The first days of spring will be mostly cloudy with rain and snow in places. Highest day temperatures are expected to range between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius.