News

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Czech government offers flood aid to Britain

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has written to his British counterpart Gordon Brown offering assistance in removing the damage caused by devastating floods affecting southern England. Speaking after a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, Mr Topolanek said the Czech Republic could offer Britain some very efficient pumps and drying equipment as well as the services of flood experts who have extensive experience of dealing with the damage caused by massive inundations. The Czech Republic itself suffered disastrous floods in 1997 and 2002. Britain is currently trying to cope with its worst floods in 60 years.

New charges brought against fugitive Czech billionaire

Czech police have lodged a file with the state attorney recommending that Czech billionaire Radovan Krejcir should face new charges of illegally siphoning off assets worth 150 million Czech crowns or 7.5 million US dollars from a technology leasing company. If found guilty of the charges, the controversial businessman could face a jail sentence of 12 years.

Mr Krejcir is already wanted in the Czech Republic for various crimes, including conspiracy to murder, money forgery, tax evasion, extortion, and abduction. He has been on the run from the Czech authorities after fleeing from the Czech police to the Seychelles in 2005. He is currently residing in South Africa, where he is on bail pending the outcome of an extradition hearing.

Swedish newspaper claims a terrorist suspect has applied for asylum in the Czech Republic

According to a Swedish newspaper, a Swedish citizen of Lebanese origin who is being held in the Czech Republic pending the outcome of a hearing to extradite him to the United States on terrorism charges has applied for asylum in this country. The Swedish daily Expressen claims that Oussama Kassir has asked for asylum in the Czech Republic because he is disappointed with how the Swedish authorities have handled his detention in this country.

Mr Kassir is wanted in the US on suspicion of running an Al-Qaeda training camp in Oregon. Although he was exonerated of terrorist-related offences by a Swedish court, he was arrested on the basis of an international arrest warrant during a brief stopover in Prague while he was flying from Stockholm to the Lebanon in December 2005. The Czech authorities have neither confirmed nor denied Mr Kassir's alleged asylum application.

New tender likely to be announced for prostitute census

The Czech Ministry of Labour has said it is wants to announce a new tender to count the number of prostitutes working in the Czech Republic. After a previous tender to carry out a census of the number of sex workers operating in the Czech Republic attracted no bidders, a spokeswoman for the ministry said a new selection procedure would in all likelihood be launched in the near future.

The Ministry of Labour wants to ascertain exactly how many prostitutes are working in the Czech Republic and which regions have the most sex workers. Current official estimates put the number at 10,000 but several NGOs say the figure could be three times higher. The ministry hopes to complete the new survey by the end of 2008.

Prime Minister is seeking divorce

Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek told journalists on Wednesday that he would like to divorce his wife Pavla, but that she has refused to countenance the idea. Mr Topolanek said that he fully respected his wife's stance. He added that if Mrs Topolankova would agree to a divorce, he would be willing to transfer ownership of their home to her and still continue paying the mortgage.

The Prime Minister was making his comments a day after his mistress - fellow Civic Democrat MP Lucie Talmanova - gave birth to the couple's son Nicolas. Mr Topolanek publicly admitted in January that he had left his wife to live with Ms Talmanova, who was then pregnant with their child. He told journalists on Wednesday that he was "very proud" of the birth of his son and that, although he had possibly been a bad husband, he hoped to be a good father to his newborn child. Mr Topolanek already has three children from his first marriage.

Hundreds stranded as travel agent goes bust

More than 200 Czech holidaymakers were left stranded at Prague's Ruzyne airport on Tuesday when it became apparent that travel agent, I'm Travelling, had been unable to pay for their flights abroad. Those affected were travelling to Turkey and Tunisia. A spokesperson for I'm Travelling, which has a yearly turnover of around 300 million CZK or 15 million USD and is one of the largest travel agencies operating in the Czech Republic, said that the agency had filed for bankruptcy.

Civic groups lodge complaint over Czech failure to draft noise maps

Seven civic and environmental organisations have filed a complaint with the European Commission over the Czech Republic's failure to draft strategic noise maps within a deadline set by the EU. The country was supposed to have mapped noise levels in several Prague cities and areas near motorways and railways by 30 June, but had so far only submitted data on railroads. A spokeswoman for one of the organisations said that 90,000 people suffer from excessive noise levels in Prague alone, and that so-called noise-maps were urgently needed to come up with action plans for limiting noise pollution. The government is supposed to draft anti-noise measures by July of next year, and these will be partly financed by the EU.

Hyundai to receive 900 million CZK subsidy from the Czech government

The Czech government approved plans on Wednesday to earmark 900 million CZK or roughly 44 million USD of this year's budget as a subsidy for the construction of a Hyundai car-making plant in the Moravian town of Nosovice. Under the terms of a deal with the Korean automobile manufacturer, Hyundai should receive 2.415 billion CZK in subsidies from the Czech government between 2007 and 2013 for the construction of its manufacturing plant in this country.

The Hyundai factory is expected to employ around 3,000 people when production begins in 2009. The 1.3-billion-dollar car-assembly plant is the biggest foreign investment in the Czech Republic to date.

CEBIA: 450,000 cars in the Czech Republic are of dubious origin

The head of the vehicle-security firm CEBIA, which monitors the origin of cars on Czech roads, has said that his company estimates that there are around 450,000 cars in this country which could have been acquired through criminal activities. CEBIA chief executive Martin Pajer told the Czech Press Agency (CTK) on Wednesday that many of these vehicles had had their chassis or engine serial numbers changed to hide the fact that they were originally stolen.

According to the Czech Transport Research Centre, there are at least 4.1 million cars registered in the Czech Republic.

Czech government approves agreement with US on disposal of missiles

Czech Defence Minister Martin Bartak told journalists on Wednesday that the government had approved an agreement with the United States on the destruction of aging Czech anti-aircraft missile systems. According to Mr Bartak, the Americans will pay around 600,000 dollars to the Czech Republic for the destruction of outdated Soviet-made missiles and launching pads. The US government fears that if the missiles are not destroyed they could be sold to third parties, which could increase the risk that some might end up in the hands of terrorists.

Weather

The weather is expected to be sunny with occasional clouds. Highest daytime temperatures should range between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius.