News

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Supreme Court overturns earlier decisions on St Vitus Cathedral

The Supreme Court has overturned a lower instance court decision that returned Prague's famous St Vitus Cathedral to the Roman Catholic Church last year. In 2005 a local court first ruled that the Catholic Church's property rights had never been cancelled under communism, a decision later confirmed by an appeals court. The cathedral was officially given back last September. But Friday's decision by the Supreme Court criticised the earlier rulings on legal grounds, now returning the case to the district level. The Church has reacted by saying it has not received official confirmation yet.

Home owners offer possibility of 50 billion crown settlement

Property owners who have filed a lawsuit against the Czech Republic at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg have suggested they would be willing to agree to an out-of-court settlement of 50 billion crowns. A statement was made by the group's lawyer on Friday. The sum is the equivalent of 2.4 billion US dollars. Owners are suing the state for alleged damages incurred by the country's regulated rent system. Lawyer Klara Vesela Samkova suggested on Friday that many in the group had an interest in reaching an agreement. She said that many current owners were older citizens who had been returned property previously confiscated under communism.

PM to discuss US anti missile bases with Polish counterpart

Czech officials have said that Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek will discuss plans for a US anti-missile defence system with bases in the Czech Republic and Poland when he meets with his Polish counterpart, Jaroslaw Kaczynski, during an official visit next week. Last month the US officially asked the Czech Republic to host a radar base on its soil and for interceptor missiles to be deployed in Poland as part of an expanded anti-missile system. The plan has drawn strong criticism from Russia. Both Mr Topolanek and Mr Kacynski have backed Washington's plans but political parties and the public in both the Czech Republic and Poland remain divided on the issue.

Czech Republic to donate weapons, helicopters to Afghanistan

The Defence Ministry is to donate a large number of weapons to the government of Afghanistan, the Czech daily Pravo has reported. According to the newspaper, the weapons - 20,000 submachine guns and 650 machine guns - are valued at more than 30 million Czech crowns (the equivalent of 1.4 million US dollars). The Defence Ministry said the weapons were surplus to their requirements, adding that the donation was part of international efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan. The guns will be followed by the delivery of 12 transport and combat helicopters.

Langer: security measures not tied to psychic "warning"

Interior Minister Ivan Langer has told public broadcaster Czech TV that security measures introduced at Prague's international airport this week were not taken in reaction to a clairvoyant warning about a possible terrorist attack. Armed police have been patrolling the airport since Wednesday. An armoured vehicle has also been stationed in the area. Originally the fact that a psychic had contacted the police about a threat was confirmed by a spokesman for the counter-intelligence service. A number of politicians including the leader of the opposition Social Democrats, have criticised the interior minister's actions, but officials have said that special security measures will remain in effect throughout the rest of week.

Poll suggest majority thinks government will not be successful

A new poll released by the STEM agency has suggested that two thirds of Czechs think the current coalition government will not be successful, with only thirty percent of those queried saying they thought the government would rule until 2010. A majority of those polled told the agency they did not think that the government would be able to push through key reforms. The government, led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, made up the Civic and Christian Democrats and the Greens, barely won its confidence vote in January. It had to rely on an agreement with two rebel MPs to allow it to gain a majority.

Prison Service archives to be made completely public

Czech Prison Service archives will be made completely public at the start of next year, the head of the service Ludek Kula has said. The documents are said to include information on collaboration between prisoners and wardens and the StB, the communist-era secret police. The move is in line with the Interior Ministry's "Open Past" project, aiming to make previously unreleased StB files accessible to the public.

Menzel film awarded critics' prize in Berlin

Film director Jiri Menzel has been awarded the Association of International Film Critics prize at the Belinale film festival for his film adaptation of Bohumil Hrabal's I Served the King of England. The prize will be awarded to the director on Friday evening during a gala ceremony.

Rosicky, fellow Arsenal team-mates, given audience with Queen Elizabeth II

Star Czech midfielder Tomas Rosicky, along with fellow Arsenal footballers had the honour of meeting with Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Thursday. The queen reportedly meets only rarely with sports figures. Tomas Rosicky described the event - which lasted about half an hour and included tea with the famous monarch - as "a most pleasant experience".

Weather

Partly cloudy conditions are expected into the weekend. Prague should see daytime highs averaging around 6 degrees Celsius.