A Prague tram which was derailed on Wednesday killing two people was going at 32 km an hour, over twice the speed limit of 15 km an hour, an inspector said on Friday. Several people were injured in the accident, which occurred on the city's Karlovo namesti. The daily Pravo reported on Friday that one of the injured was robbed of money and a mobile phone before she was taken to hospital.
A contingent of Czech soldiers has left for Afghanistan, where they will serve in a NATO mission for the next six months. The 15 Czech soldiers will be searching for mines around Kabul's international airport, as well as conducting weather surveys. Czech soldiers have been deployed in Afghanistan since March of last year.
More than 70 Czech politicians, artists and sports stars were voluntarily locked up in a mock prison cell on Prague's Wenceslas Square on Friday, in a protest against the plight of Cuban dissidents. The protest was due to last 75 hours, marking as it did the arrest of 75 Cuban dissidents two years ago. Former Czech president Vaclav Havel, a strong critic of the Castro regime, sent a video message supporting the event, which was organised by the NGO People in Need.
A new opinion poll suggests the Czech prime minister, Stanislav Gross, has lost public support. The prime minister, who has recently been embroiled in a scandal involving his family's property, is now supported by 18 percent of voters, according to the STEM poll. In January he had almost 50 percent support. The new poll found that most popular politician in the country is Culture Minister Pavel Dostal, who is fighting cancer.
Regulations regarding work in the Czech Republic are among the strictest in Europe, according to an OECD report quoted in Friday's Hospodarske noviny. The study found that only Portugal was less 'liberal', while the United Kingdom had the weakest labour legislation. The report says the Czech government should amend the country's labour law to make it easier for employers to lay off workers.
The Czech Social Security Administration has said that 250 Czech citizens were born one hundred years ago, in 1905. 280 Czech Republic's citizens are over one hundred years old, the oldest was born in 1897. The population of the Czech Republic is around 10,200,000. In 2002, the average life span for men was 72.1 year and 78.7 for women. Experts estimate that in fifty years' time, the average Czech man should live 78.9 years and the average Czech woman should live 84.5 years.
The head of the government Christian Democrats Miroslav Kalousek has stepped down as the head of parliament's budget committee due to a political row over his wife's finances. Mr Kalousek told a news conference that his wife, accused of failing to pay proper taxes in a family real estate deal, had done nothing illegal but that it was his responsibility to hold himself at least partially accountable as a public official. The Christian Democrats have been pressuring Prime Minister Stanislav Gross to step down amid a row over his personal finances that threatened to tear apart the coalition government. The step by Mr Kalousek is likely to increase the pressure on Mr Gross ahead of a congress of his Social Democrats at the end of the month.
The consultancy Ernst&Young has said that taxes paid by Czech companies are among the highest in Central and Eastern Europe. Malta is the only country among the ten new EU members where companies pay even more. The situation is expected to change in the foreseeable future. Since 2003, corporate taxes in the Czech Republic have fallen by 3 percentage points, and another cut can be expected soon. Czech companies pay some 28 percent of profit in taxes, but the real tax is lower owing to deductibles and tax reliefs. Real taxes stand at some 24 percent.
The Czech National Library has outbid all competitors and purchased a 14th-century manuscript of a Latin translation of the "Chronicle of Dalimil" - the oldest Czech language chronicle in verse and one of the fundamental documents of Czech historiography. The library bought the 24-page illuminated fragment for 300,000 euros in a Paris auction room on Thursday. The Czech state was prepared to pay up to 340,000 euros for the manuscript.
The Labour and Social Affairs Minister and deputy head of the Social Democrats Zdenek Skromach has said that support for separating the posts of Social Democrat chairman and prime minister is growing within his party. Mr Skromach is running against Prime Minister Stanislav Gross for the post of Social Democrat leader at the party's national conference at the end of March. According to speculation, other possible candidates could be the chairman of the lower house Lubomir Zaoralek, Finance Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Education Minister Petra Buzkova and Local Development Minister Jiri Paroubek.