News

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Government wants to broaden powers of ombudsman to oversee anti-discrimination law

The government would like the ombudsman's office to oversee the implementation of a law against discrimination due to be introduced next year. The Czech Republic is required to adopt such legislation as part of its accession to the European Union. If the government plan is approved by both houses of parliament, it would represent a considerable broadening of the powers and remit of the ombudsman's office, which currently only investigates complaints made by individual citizens. Government representatives said they had considered setting up a new anti-discrimination watchdog, before deciding it was a better idea to increase the powers of the ombudsman.

Czech economy far more demanding in terms of energy consumption than EU average

The Czech economy is four times more demanding in terms of energy consumption than the European Union average. According to a new European Commission report, the Czech Republic was the fifth worst country in this respect in 2004. The Czech economy required 852 kilogrammes of oil to produce gross domestic product of 1,000 euros; the average in the EU as a whole was 200 kilogrammes.

President Klaus against Kaplicky National Library building on Letna

President Vaclav Klaus is opposed to the construction of a controversial National Library building on Prague's Letna Plain. The green blob-like building has been designed by London-based Czech architect Jan Kaplicky. Speaking on a visit to Prague 9, Mr Klaus went so far as to say he would fight to prevent the construction of the building with his own body, in a similar fashion to Austrian opponents of the Czech Temelin nuclear power station.

More use of internet should help reduce number of judges, says minister

The government hopes that making more use of the internet will help speed up court processes and reduce the number of judges in the Czech Republic. After a cabinet meeting, Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil told reporters that increased use of electronic communication could cut the number of judges from around 3,000 to 2,500 within five years. Government plans include allowing people to file documents across the internet, as well as an online insolvency register. Minister Pospisil said the "traditional" justice system would continue to work alongside the new technology.

Government to accept settlement from Setuza

The government is to accept a settlement of 1.1 billion CZK (53m USD) from the company Setuza. Distraint was declared at Setuza in November, with the chemicals and foods company owing the state 4 billion CZK. Agriculture Minister Petr Gandalovic recommended the acceptance of the settlement proposed by its new owners, and the government approved the move on Wednesday. The minister had rejected a lower offer in January.

Funeral of inter-war film star Svatopluk Benes held in Prague

The funeral has taken place in Prague of the popular actor Svatopluk Benes, who died at the weekend at the age of 89. The main hall at Olsanse cemetery was packed out for Thursday's funeral service, which was attended by several of his friends from the worlds of film and theatre. Svatopluk Benes, famous for his good looks and chivalrous personality, was one of the leading Czechoslovak film stars of the inter-war period.

Police officers charged with taking money from pickpockets over six-year period

Two Prague police officers are facing charges of abuse of authority for allegedly regularly receiving money from Romanian pickpockets operating in the city centre, Pravo reported. The daily said the two were given up to 1,500 CZK (70 USD) a week by a pick pocketing gang over a six-year period. Both officers have been dismissed from the force ahead of their court hearings.

Annual Book World trade fair begins in Prague

The annual Svet knihy (Book World) trade fair has got underway at Prague's Vystaviste. The four-day event features 230 stands and guests from 34 countries around the world. The focus this year is on German literature.

Third of Prague Spring concerts sold out

A third of the 50 or so concerts in this year's Prague Spring music festival have sold out, organisers said. In all 70 percent of the tickets for this year's festival have been sold. Prague Spring begins on May 12 with the traditional Ma Vlast by Bedrich Smetana, performed by the Czech Philharmonic and conducted by Zdenek Macal. It runs until June 3.

Czech rock band Kabat leave for Eurovision

The rock group Kabat have left Prague for the Finnish capital Helsinki, where they will represent the Czech Republic in the annual Eurovision song contest. It is the first time the country is taking part in the international competition. Kabat bass player Milan Spalek said the fact his band play hard rock could work against them in the Eurovision. The Czech group will appear in the semi-final on May 10 and will be hoping to reach the final two days later.

Film star Angelina Jolie in Prague for film shoot

The movie star Angelina Jolie is in Prague to begin work on a new film called Wanted, which also stars Morgan Freeman. The actress arrived in the Czech capital on Tuesday evening with her husband Brad Pitt and their four children. Shooting in Prague is set to last for 20 weeks, before production moves on to Budapest.

Jankulovski third Czech to reach Champions League final

Marek Jankulovski will become the third Czech to take part in the final of the Champions League, club football's most prestigious tournament. His club AC Milan reached the May 23 final on Wednesday after beating Manchester United. However, Jankulovski's international team-mate Petr Cech has missed out on the big game, after his Chelsea lost to Liverpool on Tuesday. Vladimir Smicer and Milan Baros won the Champions League with Liverpool in 2005.

Berger set to remain at Aston Villa for one more season

Former Czech football international Patrik Berger is set to stay at English Premiership club Aston Villa for another season. Villa manager Martin O'Neill said he would offer Berger a new contract after being impressed with his performances in the second half of the season. Berger, who is 33, has had a number of injury problems in recent seasons but has been playing regularly this year.

Weather

It should be quite warm over the next few days, with temperatures of up to 20 degrees Celsius. However, forecasters say we can expect rain in some places.