Police have charged sixteen people in an organised scam diluting gasoline fuel on sale at petrol stations, increasing volume and robbing the state of 250 million crowns in unpaid taxes. The sum is expected to go up as investigations continue. All sixteen have been charged with tax evasion and criminal conspiracy. If found guilty, each could face up to 12 years in prison.
Authorities have registered an 8th case of bird flu in a dead swan in southern Bohemia, near the Austrian border. Tests have shown the presence of the H5 virus: veterinary measures are the same as in previous cases. The spokesman for the State Veterinary Authority, Josef Duben, has confirmed that a 3-kilometre protection zone and a 10-kilometre observation radius have been marked. All previous cases of bird flu were also uncovered in southern Bohemia. Only one showed so far has shown the presence of the deadly H5N1 strain.
The Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda - meeting with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier has revealed that the so-called Czech-German Fund for the Future will continue operating in coming years. Established a decade ago, the fund - focusing largely on Czech-German cultural and educational programmes - was originally slated to wrap up by the end of 2006. Mr Steinmeier has said that he will now ask the German Bundestag to decide on further funding. Germany has financed the fund - based in Prague - until now. During their meeting on Friday, both ministers praised bilateral relations and agreed to meet on a more regular basis.
In ice hockey action, Czech forward Jan Bulis scored his 19th goal this season for the Montreal Canadiens in their eighth straight win. On Thursday the Habs downed Ottawa 5-2; the Senators were without their high-profile Czech goaltender Dominik Hasek. Montreal is currently in sixth place in the Eastern Conference, vying for one of four remaining play-off spots.
A court in western Bohemia has banned Jirina and Zdenek Hoffman from
using registered trademarks of the Becherovka liquor company. The
Hoffmans were being sued by the company for using the Becher name.
According to the court, Hoffman products in the Czech Republic,
Slovakia, and Russia since 1998 were counterfeit, and the court has
forbid the Hoffmans from using the terms "Becher Bitter" or
Becher" on their products, as well as using the initials JB on their
labels. They have also been banned from using
characteristically-similar green bottles. Neither of the Hoffmans has
commented the ruling.
The guilty parties have been ordered to pay the Jan Becher - Karlovarska Becherovka company 5 million crowns (211,000 US dollars) in damages.
A Prague court has stiffened an earlier sentence for Lukas Kohout - the young Czech who, several years ago, posed as an assistant to the former Foreign Minister Jan Kavan in order to travel to various exotic destinations on government planes. The latest ruling increases his original 'probation' period from 24 to 28 months. Last year Mr Kohout was handed a two-year-prison sentence; the court ruled he must also repay 470,000 crowns in damages. That is the equivalent of more than 21,000 US dollars.
President Vaclav Klaus has signed a conflict of interest bill passed by both houses of Parliament earlier this year. The bill imposes stricter controls on property, income, or gifts of over 100, 000 crowns (the equivalent of just over 4,000 US dollars) belonging to politicians and other public officials, including members of the judiciary and the state administration. Equivalent or higher amounts will have to be declared. The bill comes into effect on January 1st, 2007. Anyone in violation of the law could face a fine of up to 500,000 crowns.
According to the Czech commercial station Radio Impuls the well-known Czech singer and celebrity Lucie Bila has remarried on the day of her 40th birthday. Mrs Bila's husband is Vaclav Barta - also a performer better known under his professional name "Noid". Mrs Bila and her husband - who is thirteen years her junior - have been together for more than two years.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has told journalists that the remains of some 4,000 German Wehrmacht soldiers being kept under temporary conditions in Usti nad Labem, north Bohemia, will be solved within a year. On Friday the German foreign minister met with Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek, with the prime minister afterwards saying that the remains will be temporarily transferred to a Czech military site. A permanent location is being sought. The remains of German soldiers from World War II were only recently rediscovered in storage at an Usti factory site. In the 90s a German association for the care of war graves began exhuming bodies of the soldiers to be reburied at a Prague cemetery, but the project collapsed after running out of funds.