News

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Cunek charged in bribe case

Jiri Cunek, the leader of the Christian Democratic Party, has been charged by police in a case of alleged bribe-taking. Mr Cunek was notified by police on Friday afternoon. His lawyer has said he will put forward a complaint in the case. Earlier this week the Senate voted to lift Mr Cunek's parliamentary immunity to pave the way for legal proceedings. The opposition Social Democrats so far have criticised the prime minister for not dismissing Mr Cunek, who is deputy prime minister. By contrast, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek appealed earlier for Mr Cunek to be allowed to try and clear his name.

Czech Interpol head fired for former secret police role

Pavol Mihal, the head of Czech Interpol has been dismissed after it was revealed that he previously worked for the country's communist-era secret police, the StB. Deputy police president Oldrich Martinu said on Friday that Mr Mihal had lost his qualifications to work for the police presidium and that he would be transferred to a position of ordinary policeman. The Czech media last week revealed that Mr Mihal had bypassed a 1991 law barring former secret service agents access to top public posts. He bypassed the law by slightly altering his name.

Klaus conditionally backs US radar base in Czech Rep

In an interview for the financial newspaper Hospodarske Noviny on Friday, President Vaclav Klaus conditionally backed the idea of a US radar base in the Czech Republic. In the interview he suggests any agreement will require fine-tuning on "thousands of details". Mr Klaus has also made clear the issue should be discussed within the broader context of the Czech Republic's ties to NATO and the European Union, not just Czech-US relations. The US is hoping to build its radar site in the Czech Republic as part of a broader missile defence system capable of preventing potential missile attacks on Europe.

School to pay 15 million crowns in compensation

A court in Jindrichuv Hradec, in southeast Bohemia, has ruled that a school will have to pay 15 million crowns (around 690,000 US dollars) in compensation to one of its students, who had a serious accident during a field trip three years ago. The young boy, who was eight at the time, almost drowned during a swim that was supposed to have been supervised by teachers. The teachers have already been given a suspended sentence but the parents of the boy, who is now physically disabled, also sued the school for compensation.

Parties present different visions on EU constitution

Czech parliamentary parties, including the Christian Democrats, the Communists, and the Greens, have presented different visions on the EU constitution at a conference in Prague. The Civic and Social Democrats, the country's two largest parties, remain perhaps most at odds on the issue. Speaking at the conference on Friday, Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek backed the idea of a more flexible union, making clear he would prefer a new document rather than the current draft proposal. By comparison, the Social Democrats' Jiri Paroubek expressed support for the constitution, saying he would prefer it see full ratification by 2009.

Prague Mayor to take two months of unpaid leave

Prague's Mayor Pavel Bem, has come under criticism for planning to take almost two months of unpaid leave to climb Mount Everest. Mr Bem, well-known for his passion for the outdoors, has said it was his childhood dream to reach the summit of world's highest mountain. He intends to leave for the Himalayas in March and return sometime in the second half of April, depending on weather conditions. Some city councillors have opposed the plan. European Democrat Jiri Witzany says the post of Prague mayor is comparable to that of a manager at a large company, saying it would be unthinkable for such a manager to take two months off.

Dairy firm rejects claim its cheese is unsafe

The Czech Republic's largest dairy producer, Madeta, has rejected a claim by Slovak authorities that one of its products is unsafe. The company released an official statement on Friday after health officials in neighbouring Slovakia found traces of the potentially-deadly listeria bacteria in one of the company's cheese imports. The product was withdrawn from the shelves. The director of the Czech Veterinary Office has said that he has not yet received an official report from Slovak authorities, but specialists have been sent to check some of Madeta's testing procedures. The listeria bacteria is potentially deadly, especially for the elderly or new-borns.

Starka associate released on bail

Vlastimil Spevak, an associate of controversial football boss Jaroslav Starka, has been released on bail. Both men, along with others, have been accused of organising the kidnapping which resulted in the death of Lambert Krejcir, the father of a fugitive Czech billionaire. Mr Starka was released earlier this week on a bail of 8 million crowns. In Mr Spevak's case the bail was slighter lower: 7.9 million, the equivalent of around 360,000 US dollars.

Bands Krytsof, Kabat snag highest number of "Andel" nominations

Pop-rock band Krystof, headed by frontman Richard Krajco and hardrock band Kabat headed by Josef Vojtek have received the highest number of nominations for the upcoming "Andel" (or Angel) music awards, held annually in the Czech Republic. It has been revealed that both bands have been nominated in a total of four categories. The Andel awards are voted on by journalists and specialists from the Czech music scene. This year more than 600 reportedly took part. The awards ceremony itself will be held in March.

World Championships: Zahrobska just short of medal spot in women's super-combined

Czech alpine skier Sarka Zahrobska finished fourth - just outside the medals - at the World Championships in Alpine Skiing in Are, Sweden on Friday in the women's super-combined. Home favourite Anja Paerson won the race to take her second gold of the championships after earlier winning the Super-G. American Julia Mancuso was second, while Marlies Schild of Austria was third.

Weather

The next few days are expected to see partly cloudy conditions with day time highs averaging around 8 degrees Celsius.