The leadership of the ruling Social Democratic party met on Saturday to try to rally support for the bill on same sex partnerships which the President's veto has sent back to the lower house. A new vote on the bill is to take place in March and its definitive approval would require a majority of 101 votes. The Social Democratic party has recommended that its deputies support the bill and it will seek stronger backing for it across the political spectrum. The bill has evoked plenty of controversy over the past seven years and the most support it ever received in the lower house was 86 votes last December. Gay rights activists fear that the President's veto could send the bill back to square one. Its approval on the other hand would make the Czech Republic the first post communist state to legalize gay marriages.
The Plzen regional court has sent Kosovo Albanian Faton Gasi to twelve years in prison for extensive drug trafficking. The court found him guilty of smuggling some 250 kilograms of heroin from the Czech Republic to Italy in 1998 and 1999. Two other men were heavily involved in the trafficking but one of them is dead and the other is reported missing. Gasi, who has lived in the Czech Republic since 1991, was earlier suspected of the murder of two Turkish businessmen, but the court cleared him of all charges on the grounds of insufficient evidence.
The Czech Food Inspection Office says it has confiscated 19 tons of Chinese shelled nuts imported from the Netherlands because they were found to contain high levels of potentially cancer-causing substances, so called aflatoxins. Aflatoxins often occur in rotting food. The Food Inspection Office said that laboratory tests revealed that the level of these substances in the consignment of Chinese nuts far exceeded EU-established limits.
A gas explosion in a Prague restaurant has left four people injured, two of them seriously. The explosion happened at eight thirty am local time on Saturday morning when several employees were already working on the premises. Fifteen people had to be evacuated from the building, which houses apartments on its upper floors. The cause of the accident is being investigated.
The right-of-centre Freedom Union has announced that it will run solely on its own in national elections later this year, rather than forming a pre-election bloc with other small centre-right parties. There was speculation the party could run on a common platform with non-parliamentary parties including the liberal European Democrats or the Civic Democratic Alliance. In the end, the Freedom Union opted to run separately, its representatives saying they are aiming to put together a candidate list by March. The Freedom Union is acknowledged as being in a difficult position ahead of the elections, with a number of polls suggesting voters support currently falls well below the 5 percent threshold needed to get into Parliament.
The prices of poultry products in the Czech Republic have fallen slightly following the identification of cases of the H5N1 strain of bird flu in neighbouring Germany. Poultry farmers and poultry meat producers expressed worries on Friday that dropping rates - while not dramatic yet - could lead to more significant losses in light of the bird flu scare. So far, price differences for wholesalers have not been significant. Experts have estimated that the first case of the bird flu virus is likely to appear in the Czech Republic within the coming weeks. Along with Germany, cases of the H5N1 strain have now been confirmed in countries like Italy, Slovenia, and Hungary.
Legendary ice hockey goaltender Domink Hasek and forward Patrik Elias
have been confirmed as out of the remainder of the Winter Olympics in
Turin. The reason: both players suffered injuries in the Czechs'
opening game against Germany earlier this week. Hasek suffered a leg
muscle pull, Elias, damage to his ribs. The players have been replaced
on the roster by 33-year-old goalie Dusan Salficky, who plays in
Russia, and the Buffalo Sabres' forward Ales Kotalik.
Pundits are speculating the loss of Hasek especially could hurt the Czech team, which so far has earned one win and one loss in the Winter Olympics. The team next faces Finland on Saturday.
Czech President Vaclav Klaus and his Polish counterpart Lech Kaczynski meeting in Prague on Friday, discussed the state of the European Union as well as problems surrounding further unification. The two heads of state - known for critical stances towards further integration - said the European Union needed a constitution that gave nation states more power, proposing a new charter should replace the EU Constitution. The original constitution was put on ice last year following negative referenda results in both the Netherlands and France. Both Mr Kaczynski and Mr Klaus are proponents of a more loosely-organised EU. His visit to Prague is the Polish president's first since being elected to office in October last year.
Czech cross country skier Katerina Neumannova has come fifth in the 10 km classical at the Winter Olympics in Turin. She said afterwards she had run out of energy towards the end of the race, the second of three events she is taking part in. Neumannova took silver in the 15 km pursuit on Sunday, the Czech Republic's only medal so far in Turin.