The Ombudsman's office has uncovered over 50 cases of unlawful sterilisation of women. In an interview for Czech Television, Ombudsman Otakar Motejl said his office had been looking into the cases for over a year. Mr Motejl said Health Ministry documentation on the sterilisations did not contain written requests, or evidence that the women had been fully informed about the procedure. He said the cases, which mostly involve Romany women did not reflect racial discrimination.
The Interior Ministry has given the Union of Communist Youth until the end of March to change its policy programme. If they do not drop a call for a worker's revolution the group face a ban, on the grounds that they are registered as a civic association not a political party. The young Communists say they have no intention of changing their policies.
The state prosecution has filed another charge against TV magnate turned politician Vladimir Zelezny. The Czech European Parliament member is accused of the attempt to harm a creditor when he held the post of general director at the popular commercial station TV Nova. Mr Zelezny is already under investigation for tax evasion amounting to 6.8 million crowns (some 280,000 US dollars).
One of the largest construction companies in the country, Hochtief VSB, has won a tender to reconstruct buildings belonging to the Czech Defence Ministry. The contract for the one billion crown project is expected to be signed in the next few days. The other companies that entered the tender were Metrostav, Prumstav, Subterra, and Konstruktiva Branko.
Police fear another Czech businessman, for whom an arrest warrant has been
issued, has left the country to avoid prosecution. Tomas Pitr was found
guilty of tax evasion last month and was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison.
He appealed the verdict. Fearing he would leave the country, Prague's
Municipal Court issued a warrant for his arrest last week. In a telephone
interview with the internet news server Novinky on Thursday, Mr Pitr said
he was on holiday in the Swiss Alps and had yet to decide whether or not
he would return to the Czech Republic.
Tomas Pitr is one of the country's richest entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, another Czech millionaire, Radovan Krejcir, who is wanted on charges of fraud and planning the murder of a customs official, escaped to the Seychelles.
Czech wholesalers and retailers have been selling alcohol well below average price. Under Czech law they have until the end of the year to empty their stocks of spirits that are not labelled with a new tax stamps, or else face a heavy fine. Spirits with an alcohol content of 15% or higher have to be properly labelled and have the stamp. As of January 1 2006, any wholesaler or retailer who violates the law can face a fine of up to 5 million Czech crowns (over 200,000 US dollars).
Heavy snows and freezing temperatures have been causing problems on roads around the Czech Republic. Local authority workers have been working flat out trying to keep the country's roads open. The main Prague-Brno motorway was blocked for five hours on Wednesday after a collision involving three trucks. While in general the biggest difficulties have been recorded in mountain areas, motorists throughout the Czech Republic have been warned to drive carefully.
Since the country's mobile phone networks started in 1996, almost 19 million mobiles have been imported into the Czech Republic, which has a population of 10 million. Hospodarske noviny reported on Wednesday there are 106 SIM cards for every 100 Czechs, and that Czechs keep mobiles for less than two years on average before acquiring a new one.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has denied "waging war" against the Czech media. In an article in Mlada fronta Dnes, Mr Paroubek said occasional disputes with journalists were normal, but only two papers - Mlada fronta and Lidove noviny - had created an impression of "war" between him and the media. The prime minister came in for some criticism recently when a Czech TV current affairs programme was axed after he complained it was biased.