News

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PM Mirek Topolanek and coalition critics of fiscal reform reach agreement

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek arrived at an agreement with the critics of the proposed fiscal reform from within his own party, the Civic Democrats, Czech TV reported on Sunday. The critics now say they will vote for the reform in the Lower House on Tuesday. The Civic Democratic MPs, with former finance minister Vlastimil Tlusty among them, criticized the fact that the overall tax burden in 2009 would be in fact higher than the year before. The Civic Democrats will incorporate their objections into the fiscal reform package when it is debated in the Senate where the coalition has a vast majority of seats. The reform package was approved by the Lower House in the second reading on Wednesday. Ludvik Hovorka of the Christian Democrats, the only coalition MP to vote against it, told Czech TV on Sunday that he would consider voting for the reform on Tuesday as well.

Iraqi ex-spy wants to sue Czech Republic

Former Iraqi diplomat and spy Ahmad Chahlil Ibrahim Samir Ani wants to file a lawsuit against the Czech Republic for having labeled him as a collaborator of the Al-Qaeda terrorist network, the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. The former diplomat, who served at the Iraqi embassy in Prague for several years as charge d'affairs, was expelled from the Czech Republic for spying in April 2001. In 2003, he was arrested by American troops in Baghdad and investigated for an alleged meeting in Prague with Muhammad Atta, one of the terrorist hijackers of 9/11. The suspicion was never verified and Samir Ani was released in 2005. He claims that the allegations destroyed his life and requests compensation from the Czech Republic.

Lukas Pesek third in motorcycle Czech Grand Prix in Brno

Czech rider Lukas Pesek finished third in the 125 cc motorcycle race in the Grand Prix of the Czech Republic in Brno on Sunday. In the qualifier on Saturday, Lukas Pesek crashed but managed to secure fifth starting position. On Sunday, he started the race slow and fell to tenth position but slowly advanced forward. In the middle of the race, he was in the leading group of five, and in the dramatic last lap, Pesek overtook Hungary's Gabor Talmacsi, the leading rider of the series, and came in third, marking the first medal position for a Czech rider at Brno Grand Prix since 1971. Lukas Pesek's 15-year-old brother Karel, who was awarded a wild card by the organizers, managed to qualify for the race and finished last.

Vaclav Havel signed petition in support of American radar base in Czech Republic

Former president Vaclav Havel visited the open-air music festival in Trutnov, North-East Bohemia, on Saturday, and signed a petition in support of the location of an U.S. tracking radar base in the Czech Republic. The festival, which is the largest event of its kind in the country, was first organized in 1987. This year, the festival was dedicated to "chief' Vaclav Havel who received standing ovation from the crowd and was awarded a war bonnet on stage.

Twenty one Czechs missing abroad

Twenty one Czech citizens are missing abroad, a foreign ministry spokesperson told the CTK news agency on Sunday. The number has increased by six since last year. Four Czechs have disappeared in the U.K. where they were seeking employment, and two Czech nationals have gone missing in Turkey. According to the ministry, no new information exists in the cases of three young Czechs who disappeared in the mountains of Albania in 2001 and a Czech woman who was last seen in Ecuador in the same year. In related news, 52 Czech citizens have died abroad since June, the foreign ministry informed. Most of them - twelve - died in Croatia, the most popular tourist destination for Czech holidaymakers.

Charles Bridge in Prague will undergo renovation while open to public

Charles Bridge in Prague, one of the symbols of the city and one of the most visited tourist sight in the Czech capital will undergo reconstruction. Works on the bridge will begin on Monday, but the monument, that links Prague's Old Town with Mala Strana, will remain open to the public, Prague Mayor Pavel Bem said on Friday. The reconstruction will be carried out in several steps and passers-by will be able to watch the works in progress. The cost of the first phase of the renovation, that should be completed in 2010, is 220 million crowns, more than 10 million US dollars. The beginning of July marked the 650th anniversary of the bridge with weekend-long celebrations, and a Charles Bridge museum was open at the Old Town side.

Amendment to road traffic act softens sanctions against drivers

An amendment to the road traffic act, which will come into force on Wednesday, will soften some sanctions against offending drivers. For example, it will abolish sanctions for drivers and cyclists who only hurt themselves in an accident. The amendment also introduces sanctions for some new offences, including covering number plates on motorcycles. The new road traffic act came into force in July last year and for a period of several months it reduced the number of accidents and deaths caused by them. This year, however, the number of people killed in traffic accidents has risen dramatically which cost the traffic police boss Zdenk Bambas his job.

Police charge Simpsons pirate

The police charged on Friday a 19-year-old man from Kaplice, South Bohemia, with breaking the copyright. The man recorded an illegal copy of the Simpsons movie in July in a cinema in Ceske Budejovice and posted it on the internet. Since then, an estimated 100,000 people downloaded the movie which has cost Bontofilm, the Czech distributor of the film, five million cronws or almost 250,000 US dollars. The man is facing between six months and five years of prison time and a fine of up to five million crowns.

Weather

It is expected to be mostly cloudy at the start of the week with rain showers and occasional storms. Temperatures should range between 21 and 25 degrees Centigrade.