News

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Brno opens way for return of Tugendhat villa to original owners

The Brno city council has agreed to transfer the Tugendhat villa to the state. The move is intended to facilitate the return of the important Modernist building to its original owners, the Tugendhat family. The Tugendhats, who are Jewish, lost the villa when they fled Czechoslovakia in 1938 ahead of the Nazis. The family says the building, a UNESCO world heritage site, will remain open to the public.

Best-selling author Iva Hercikova dies at 71

The best-selling Czech novelist Iva Hercikova has died at the age of 71. Police said she took her own life last Saturday, but have released no further details. The author wrote over 20 novels and short story collections in a career spanning five decades. Iva Hercikova is perhaps best known for Pet holek na krku (Five Bad Girls), which was made into a successful film in 1967.

Ski-jumper Mazoch released from hospital in Poland

The Czech ski-jumper Jan Mazoch has been released from hospital in Krakow, ten days after crashing badly in a World Cup event in Poland. Mazoch, who had been put into an artificial coma to limit damage to his brain, has been transferred to a hospital in Prague. A medical official at the hospital in Poland said there was no reason he could not ski again if his rehab went as expected.

Number of murders up in 2006

The number of murders in the Czech Republic increased last year, according to figures released by the police on Wednesday. There were 231 murders in the country in 2006, up from 186 during the previous twelve months. Police solved 170 cases. The overall crime rate fell slightly.

Photos of wall separating residents from Romanies in Usti on display at UN HQ

Photos of a wall built by the authorities in the north Bohemian town of Usti nad Labem to separate local residents from Romanies have gone on show at the United Nations headquarters in New York. The wall was built in 1999. It was removed after being criticised by human rights groups as an example of institutional racism in the Czech Republic. Romany groups are calling on the UN to appoint a special representative on Romany issues.

Health Ministry ordered to explain why insurance should cover certain medicines

The Constitutional Court has ordered the Health Ministry to create a new system of coverage for medicines by public health insurance by the start of next year. The court said the current system was not based on objective criteria and was not justified. It called on the Health Ministry to state clearly why the costs of certain medicines should be covered.

Man who spent eight years in Thai jail for smuggling dies

A Czech man who spent eight years in jail in Thailand for heroin smuggling has died. Radek Hanykovics was transferred to a prison in the Czech Republic along with another convicted drug smuggler in 2004. He was released the following year for health reasons and toured schools warning pupils of the dangers of drugs.

Pravo: Police president could be replaced

The president of the Czech Republic's police force, Vladislav Husak, could be removed, Pravo reported. The interior minister, Ivan Langer, dismissed a suggestion he would replace Mr Husak with Martin Kotlan; however, the minister added that nothing was definitive. Mr Kotlan was deputy police president from 1998 to 2002.

Complete ATM machine stolen

Thieves made off with a cash dispensing machine operated by GE Money Bank in the central Bohemian town of Neratovice on Tuesday morning. The ATM was removed after a car was used to break through the glass front of the branch of Tesco where it was located. Another ATM was stolen recently in the nearby town of Mlada Boleslav.

Government to consider pensions for Olympic medallists

The government is to discuss a proposal next week on giving a special state pension to winners of Olympic medals. One of the MPs submitting the proposal, Pavel Ploc of the Civic Democrats, himself won two Olympic medals in ski-jumping. Winners of gold, silver and bronze medals would receive 20,000 CZK (over 900 USD) under the proposal.

Site in Brno fetches all-time record price at auction

A 22-hectare site in Brno has been sold at auction for the highest price in Czech history. It previously housed the Zbrojovka Brno armaments factory, which went bankrupt three and a half years ago. The Slovak-Czech investment group J&T paid over 700 million CZK (32 million USD) - double the starting price - for the site.

Footballer Zapotocny joins Italy's Udinese

Footballer Tomas Zapotocny has left Slovan Liberec for the Italian Serie A club Udinese. Zapotocny has played three times for the Czech Republic. The defender is the second Czech signed by Udinese during January's transfer window; the club recently bought Tomas Sivok from Sparta Prague.

Weather

Weather forecasters have warned of more gale force winds around the Czech Republic. It should also be partly cloudy with rain or snow in places over the next couple of days. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 6 degrees Celsius.