News

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Sedivy: missile defense system should fall under NATO command

A former defence minister, Jiri Sedivy, set to become NATO assistant secretary general this autumn, has said that a possible US missile defense shield should fall under joint-command within NATO. He made the statement about the system, with rocket and radar installations proposed in Poland and the Czech Republic, in Friday's edition of Pravo. The statement differed from his position earlier in the week. In Friday's interview, Mr Sedivy said that negotiations were open, and indicated that there had to beco-responsibility and co-participation regarding decision-making in the project. As future NATO assistant secretary general, Jiri Sedivy will be incharge of defence policy and planning.

Negotiations between the Czech Republic and the US on the shield have been underway since earlier this year, when US officials first asked the Czech Republic to host a radar base as part of a broader defense system in Europe.

Spokesman criticised by mayors, group, for running "pro-radar" campaign

In related news, the government spokesman for the issue of US missile defense, Tomas Klvana, has come under criticism from a civic association as well as a number of mayors of villages near the Brdy military region for - in their view - not providing enough information to the public about the radar base. They have charged that Mr Klvana was running a solely "pro-radar" campaign without addressing the possibility of negative effects on health and the environment. The radar could be deployed to the Brdy area 90 kilometres southwest of Prague if the US and the Czech Republic reach agreement. So far, polls have suggested a majority of Czechs remain against their country hosting the US base.

Czech soldiers leave for Afghanistan

Czech soldiers, the main part of the 6th Rapid Deployment Brigade, have departed for Afghanistan to replace colleagues on a reconstruction team in the north-east of the country. The main part of the 91-member contingent left early Friday morning from Prague's Ruzyne airport. The soldiers, including two women, will serve for four months in the Afghan province of Fayzabad within NATO's ISAF mission. Reconstruction teams there have helped renew schools, establish health facilities, and repair damaged bridges. Czechs operating on the ground have also helped increase security in the area by cooperating with local military officials and police.

Unemployment drops to lowest in nine years

According to the Czech Statistical Office, unemployment in the second quarter of 2007 dropped to 5.3 percent - the lowest unemployment figure in nine years. The office released information on Friday showing that the number of unemployed had dropped by around 92,000; 274,000 remain jobless.

Twenty injured - five seriously - after Austrian bus overturns on slope

Twenty people on an Austrian bus were injured - five of them seriously - on Friday when their vehicle went off the road and overturned on a slope near the south Bohemian town of Rozmberk nad Vltavou. The bus driver was reportedly trying to avoid a passing car, leading to the accident. A police spokeswoman said that a total of 34 people, including the driver, were aboard. The injured were taken by ambulance to a local hospital, but one badly hurt passenger had to be taken by helicopter.

Austrian authorities have been advised, while police are searching for the other vehicle in the incident. Passengers who escaped unscathed in the accident are waiting for a replacement bus; a psychologist, together with a translator, will reportedly also be on hand.

CT: High court strikes down earlier Kulinsky ruling

Public broadcaster Czech TV has reported that the Prague High court has struck down an earlier court ruling freeing the former director of the Bambini di Praga choir, Bohumil Kulinsky, of charges he sexually abused two underage girls under his tutelage. In addition, the court also ruled the charges should not be treated separately but added to an additional 49 complaints put forward. It is estimated the trial could start in October and last until the end of the year.

Trio receives exceptional sentences for murder

A Czech court sentenced three men for murder on Friday handing down extraordinary sentences from 19 to 23 years in prison. Twenty-five year old Pavel Feierfeil, twenty-six year old Jiri Salavec and twenty-seven year old Tibor Zeman were found guilty of murdering a man from Kraluv Dvur, who was apparently blackmailing them. Two of those found guilty then murdered the man's girlfriend, to prevent her from identifying them as suspects. The judge in the case said all three represented an exceptional threat to society; two of the defendants have already appealed Friday's ruling.

Sparta to face Arsenal in 3rd qualifying round of Champions League

Czech football side Sparta Prague will face London's Arsenal in the 3rd qualifying round of the Champions League. The draw was held on Friday. Arsenal - which include Czech star midfielder Tomas Rosicky - are considered odds-on favourites, but Sparta coach Michal Bilek said they would try as much as possible to complicate things for the London club. He said playing Arsenal in Prague would attract a lot of fans, which would be good for Czech football.

Czech international Polak signs with Anderlecht

Nuremberg's Czech international football midfielder Jan Polak on Thursday signed a four-year deal with Anderlecht, the Belgian champions announced. The 26-year old, who has 30 caps, spent two seasons in the Bundesliga where he scored four times. The financial details of the transfer were not revealed but Belgian newspapers reported that the deal was worth 3.5 million euros making it a record for the Belgian championship.

Weather

Partly cloudy skies are expected into the weekend with a possibility of showers. Daytime highs are expected to reach between 20 to 24 degrees Celsius.