News

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Czech, Italian PMs clash on starting point for EU reforms

Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek and his Italian counterpart Romano Prodi on Monday publicly disagreed on how to begin to streamline the European Union. Mr Prodi, on a one day visit to Prague, called for the EU draft treaty rejected by French and Dutch voters in 2005 to serve as the starting point for fresh institutional reform moves. The former EU Commission president said that what occurred in 2004 was a serious point of departure, noting that the treaty had been ratified by 18 EU members. The government of Mirek Topolanek, however, does not support the EU constitution in its current form and says the ratification process is ended as far as the Czech Republic is concerned.

The clash comes just over a month before EU leaders meet in Brussels on June 21-22 seeking agreement on progress for Europe's stalled constitution. Germany made the re-launch of the constitution a priority for its current EU presidency.

US missile defence experts resume inspection of Brdy military zone

US missile defence experts have resumed examining the location of a planned US radar site in the Brdy military zone southwest of Prague. According to the Czech Defence Ministry, they are focusing above all on the hydrological and geological conditions in the area and the local transport infrastructure. The thirty-eight-member team is to conclude the inspection of the location on Saturday.

Police still searching for missing girl

Police are still searching for a 13-year old girl who ran away from a children's home in Brno on Friday night where she had been placed earlier that day. The girl, who suffers from social phobia and autism, had been previously staying in the house of a thirty-year old woman who was arrested last week after a neighbour discovered she kept her eight-year old son naked and bound in the dark in a storage room. The mother, a child psychology student, has been remanded in custody and could face a jail term of eight years.

Files on fugitive Krejcir stolen from high-ranking public official

The CTK news agency reports that a briefcase containing files relating to the case of fugitive Czech businessman Radovan Krejcir, which was found on the street in Brno, had been stolen from Milan Horvath, the head of the serious fraud department of the Supreme State Attorney's Office. The documents had been reportedly stolen from Mr Horvath's car last Tuesday. Police arrested the thief, who tried to sell the documents, on Thursday. The Supreme State Attorney, Renata Vesecka, has said she will decide on the form of reprehension for Mr Horvath on Wednesday. Police say the files were by no means stolen on Mr Krejcir's orders. Mr Krejcir, who is wanted on charges of fraud and murder, is currently in custody in South Africa, from where the Czech Republic is seeking his extradition.

Delegation to travel to South Africa in Krejcir case

A delegation comprised of Justice Ministry officials, police officers and state prosecutors is to leave for South Africa on Tuesday in connection with the case of fugitive businessman Radovan Krejcir. The members of the Czech delegation are supposed to attend court hearings on May 17 and 24 which are to decide on Mr Krejcir's request to be released on bail. The South African police detained Mr Krejcir at Johannesburg airport last month after he flew in to the country using a false passport.

State attorney appeals verdict in Mlynar case

A Prague state attorney has appealed against the verdict in the case of former IT minister Vladimir Mlynar. Mr Mlynar has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison in connection with the foundation of the Testcom servis company even though the state prosecutor had proposed only a suspended sentence. Mr Mlynar was accused two years ago of assisting in the criminal offence of abusing confidential information in commercial transactions and of abusing his authority as a public official. Two other men were sentenced to six years in prison in the same case. They, as well as Mr Mlynar, deny any wrongdoing.

PM Topolanek meets former PM Zeman

The CTK news agency reports that Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek met former Prime Minister and Social Democrat chairman Milos Zeman at the weekend. According to Mr Topolanek, they discussed the details of next year's state budget. Mr Topolanek denied speculation that they talked about Mr Zeman's possible influence on certain Social Democrat MPs in an upcoming crucial vote on the government-proposed package of public finance reforms. Although Milos Zeman retired from politics in 2002, politicians from different parties have been coming to his country house in the Vysocina Mountains to consult current political affairs with him.

Interior Ministry reports decline in asylum applications

The Interior Ministry says 594 people applied for political asylum in the Czech Republic in the first four months of 2007, compared to 978 in the same period last year and 2,731 in 2004. Most of the asylum seekers this year have come from Ukraine, Vietnam, Mongolia and Georgia. The Czech authorities have granted asylum to 81 foreigners this year. Since July 1990, 3,166 out of nearly 85,000 applicants have been granted asylum and 764 of them have received Czech citizenship.

Rubbish dump in north Bohemia still ablaze

Fire fighters have so far been unable to extinguish a fire at an illegal dump full of rubbish from Germany. The dump near the North Bohemian village of Dolni Rasnice has been on fire since Saturday evening. Five units are taking turns at the site filled with toxic smoke. The fire fighters say it is still not clear whether the fire was started deliberately. In the last 18 months there have been other cases of German waste being illegally imported and burned in the Czech Republic.

Weather

The coming days are expected to be cloudy and rainy with daytime temperatures between 17 and 20 degrees Celsius.