The Constitutional Court has overruled a district and regional court,
which returned the state-owned Opocno Chateau to the Colloredo-Mansfeld
family. The aristocratic family, which has been fighting a ten-year
court battle to win back the property, says it will appeal against the
ruling at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasburg.
The Opocno Chateau and surrounding grounds in East Bohemia were seized by the Nazis in 1942 and later nationalised by the post-war Czechoslovak state. The Colloredo-Mansfeld family argue they were denied the right to claim back the property because they were wrongly labelled Nazi collaborators after the war.
The Czech Police say they have broken up an organised gang, which was planning to create a new route to smuggle drugs into the Czech Republic. One of the five arrested gang members is a Serbian national who used to be a judge in former Yugoslavia and was granted asylum in the Czech Republic in 1994. The group was allegedly dealing in cocaine and the locally-produced amphetamine pervitine. If found guilty of drug dealing they can each face up to fifteen years in prison.
The Czech government has asked parliament to approve extending the mission of just under a hundred Czech military police stationed in Iraq. They are due to return at the end of next month, but the government now recommends that they stay till the end of the year. They are based in southern Iraq where they are helping to train Iraqi police. President Vaclav Klaus has said that he supports the extension, which will cost around 175 million crowns (just over 7 million US dollars) from the Defence Ministry budget.
The right-of-centre opposition Civic Democrats officially forwarded
their proposed European constitution referendum bill to the Senate on
Thursday. The bill counts on a referendum on the European Union's first
ever constitution being held by the end of this year.
The bill is opposed by the Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats who would like to see the referendum held at the same time as the parliamentary elections in 2006. They argue that a separate referendum would cost the state a further 380 million Czech crowns (just under 16 million US dollars).
A group of forty prisoners at a prison near Brno, South Moravia, have begun collecting money from their fellow inmates to help the Tsunami victims in Southeast Asia. Donations, amounting to 10,000 Czech crowns (a little over 400 US dollars), have already been sent to the accounts of various Czech humanitarian organisations. A prison spokeswoman said on Thursday the inmates were donating some of their pocket money, which they use to buy food at the prison canteen.
The number of Czechs still missing in Southeast Asia has dropped to 10, after a tourist in Burma contacted her family on Thursday. Six of the missing are believed to be dead and only one Czech casualty has been confirmed so far. The Foreign Ministry said on Thursday, DNA samples of each missing Czech will be on the next plane to Thailand.
The Czech government is to release another half a million US dollars in
immediate aid for Southeast Asia, on top of the 650,000 dollars already
approved. It made the announcement at a United Nations donor conference in
Geneva on Tuesday.
Almost nine million dollars has also been earmarked for long-term reconstruction projects. Meanwhile, the Czech public has donated nearly 9.5 million US dollars towards relief in the devastated region.
The number of Czechs still missing in Southeast Asia now stands at 11, with seven of them believed to have died. Only one Czech casualty has been confirmed so far.
Czechs are to be given new identification numbers to replace the currently used 'rodne cislo' (birth number), under a new plan put forward by the Information Technology Ministry, the daily Hospodarske noviny reported on Wednesday. Unlike the birth number, the new ID - which will be introduced in around ten years' time - will not reflect the bearer's age or gender.
The government is discussing extending the stay of Czech military police in Iraq by one more year. The Defence Ministry says the Czech contingent would continue to train Iraqi police, and would remain at its present size of around 90 officers. Under their current mandate, the Czech soldiers would return home at the end of February.
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