News

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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.

PM Mirek Topolanek met with reform critics

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek met on Friday with the deputies and tax experts from his own party, the Civic Democrats, who criticize the fiscal reform package proposed by Mr Topolanek's government. The MPs, including former finance minister Vlastimil Tlusty, have criticized the fact that overall tax burden in 2009 should be in fact higher than the year before. The reform package was approved by the Lower House in the second reading on Wednesday while the only coalition MP to vote against it was Ludvik Hovorka of the Christian Democrats. Vlastimil Tlusty said after the meeting that all critics declared their willingness to vote for the reform if their objections are taken into account.

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.

Fire near Masaryk Circuit in Brno

The forests around the Masaryk Circuit near Brno, where motorcycle Czech Grand Prix is held over the weekend, has been set on fire at several places, the CTK news agency reported on Saturday. Nine fire fighting trucks are fighting at least four isolated fires. The incidents have not put at risk any of an estimated 70,000 visitors who came to see the qualifier for the Grand Prix races that will start on Sunday.

Czechs will get e-mail boxes for court warrants

All adult Czech citizens will get e-mail addresses from the state to receive court warrants, the daily Lidove Noviny reported on Saturday. The system should start functioning in the middle of next year. The establishment of individual e-mail addressed provided by the interior ministry is included in an amendment to the civil administrative code. The e-mail addresses should facilitate deliveries of warrants to appear at courts. Many people do not collect warrants at post offices which causes significant delays in court proceedings.

Pesek crashes and finishes fifth in 125 ccm Czech Grand Prix qualifier

Czech rider Lukas Pesek crashed during the qualifier on Saturday for the 125 ccm Czech Grand Prix race in Brno and came in fifth. He started off very well and was leading the qualification, but after his crash, two of his direct competitors for this year's title Gabor Talmacsi from Hungary and Spain's Hector Faubel were faster. At the start of the race on Sunday, Gabor Talmacsi will start from the pole position while Lukas Pesek will only be in the second row. About 200,000 spectators are expected to support Lukas Pesek during his home Grand Prix race.

Weather

It should be sunny with some cloudy spots over the weekend and occasionally, there could be rain showers. Temperatures are expected to reach 27 degrees Celsius.