News

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Court rules that St Vitus' Cathedral belongs to the state

A district court in Prague ruled on Thursday that St. Vitus' Cathedral should remain the property of the state. The cathedral in the grounds of Prague Castle has been the subject of a long-running ownership dispute between the Czech state and the Catholic Church. A previous ruling had declared the church to be the owner of the well-known monument, but this was subsequently overturned by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

St. Vitus' Cathedral, which dates back to the 14th century, was declared state property by the communist regime in the 1950s when the area around Prague Castle was made into a special heritage zone. The Catholic Church has been trying to have the building returned to it since filing a lawsuit claiming ownership in 1992. The latest verdict will not come into effect just yet as the church still has leave to appeal.

Klaus backs Czech bid for UN Security Council

The president of the Czech Republic, Vaclav Klaus, has backed the country's bid to become a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2008. Speaking at a UN general meeting in New York on Wednesday, Mr Klaus described the Czech Republic as "a reliable, mainstream and stable" country which was very actively involved in various UN missions. The president also alluded to the harmonious split of Czechoslovakia in 1993 as proof of the Czechs' commitment to finding non-violent solutions to conflicts. The Czech Republic is expected to compete with Croatia for a two-year stint on the council once current incumbent Slovakia's mandate expires at the end of this year. The vote is due to be held on October 16.

Speaking at the same meeting, Mr Klaus said he was also in favour of modernising the UN but warned against any measures that would increase the organisation's ability to act and intervene in conflicts and disputes at the expense of what he called a "plurality of opinions".

Czech PM: No sale of Budvar brewery planned

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has denied speculation that the government is soon going to privatise the state-owned Budvar brewery in Ceske Budejovice. Speaking in parliament on Thursday Mr Topolanek said that the government intended to transform the beer maker into a joint-stock company, but that there were no plans to sell it off just yet. The Prime Minister also denied reports that it was in discussions with American brewing giant Anheuser Busch over the sale of Budvar.

Budvar is the third largest brewery in the Czech Republic and it is one of the country's biggest exporters of beer, distributing the drink to over 50 countries. It has been involved in a number of trademark disputes with the American Anheuser-Busch brewery in various states over the use of the Budweiser brand, a name Budvar also uses for some of its products.

Top scientists dispute US radar claims

A group of physicists from leading American colleges such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Cornell University told journalists in Washington on Thursday that a proposed US missile defence system in Central Europe could be used to disable ballistic missiles launched from Russia. The claims contradict assertions from the US Missile Defence Agency that the system could only be used against missiles fired against so-called rogue states such as Iran.

The proposed US project, comprising a missile facility in Poland and a radar base in the Czech Republic, has been opposed by Russia who views it as a threat to its security.

Motorway closed for nine hours after crash

The D1 motorway linking Prague to the Czech Republic's second city Brno was closed for nine hours on Thursday after a car crashed into an articulated lorry near the town of Velke Mezirici. The driver of the car, described by police as a sixty-two-year-old foreign man, was declared dead at the scene of the accident.

Police investigate case of neglected and retarded boy

Czech police are investigating the parents of a four-year-old boy from the Moravian town of Frydek Mistek for suspected criminal neglect. The boy, suffering from epilepsy, cannot talk, cannot chew food and is used to drinking water from the floor. The parents were recently evicted from their flat and had been living with the child in a makeshift shelter by a stream. According to a report by the Czech Press Agency (CTK), the boy lacks basic hygiene skills and does not react when somebody calls him by his name. A spokeswoman for the police told CTKthat the child was now with a foster family.

Skoda to expand Bohemian plants

Czech car manufacturer Skoda Auto has said that it is going to expand the capacities of its plants in Kvasiny and Vrchlabi, eastern Bohemia. The facility in Kvasiny should be used to produce Skoda Roomsters and Superbs as well as the Yeti SUV. The plant in Vrchlabi will manufacture new cars introduced by parent company Volkswagen at the Frankfurt motor show. Skoda also announced that it intends to increase its output of Skoda Octavia cars using its plant in the Slovak capital Bratislava. The company said that investments in the plants should create new jobs, but did not give any specific figures. At present, the carmaker employs around 28,000 people.

Czech household debt rises to 648 billion CZK

Czech household debt rose in the month of August to 648 billion Czech crowns or 33 billion US dollars according to figures released by the Czech National Bank. The amount owed by Czech households to banks and financial institutions therefore rose by16 billion crowns (approx. 820 million US dollars) in comparison with the previous month and by 157 million crowns compared with the same period in 2006.

Czech Republic to face Belgium in Davis Cup

The Czech Republic's men's tennis team have been drawn at home to face Belgium in the Davis Cup first round. They made it to the elite World Group of the competition by narrowly beating a Switzerland team that contained world number one Roger Federer 3:2 last weekend. The tie will be played on the weekend of 8-10 February when the Czechs will be looking for there first victory at this stage of the competition since 2002.

Weather

The weather is expected to be overcast with rain and isolated storms. Highest daytime temperatures should range between 11 and 15°degrees Celsius although it may be a few degrees warmer in the east of the country.