A Czech court on Tuesday fined two former football referees 70,000 koruna (around 2,400 euros) for their part in trying to fix the result of a first division league game in November 2003. Lubomir Pucek, a former referee and the current sporting manager of first division Czech football club Slavia Prague, and Jiri Vodicka were sentenced by a court in Havirov, in the east of the Czech Republic. Vodicka also received a two-year ban from refereeing any games. Both men have said they will appeal the verdict.
The number of Czechs who contribute to charities is on the rise. Four out five Czechs said in a poll they had contributed to some humanitarian organization in the course of the last two years. Seventy percent of people polled said they now contribute to charities regularly, that's up from 45 percent in 2004. The increase in solidarity has been apparent ever since the tsunami disaster in south east Asia when Czechs collected a record sum of money in emergency aid.
The police president Vladislav Husak wants to crack down on corruption inside the police force. He unveiled on Tuesday a package of anti-corruption measures which include built in cameras at police stations and in police cars and equipment which would enable drivers to pay fines with their credit cards. The aim is for there to be as few transactions in cash as possible, Mr. Husak said. An anti-corruption hot line is already in operation and a special commission is to be set up to deal with individual cases.
Figures released by the Czech Statistics Office show that in January the Czech Republic posted a foreign trade surplus of 11.2 billion crowns (467 million dollars). According to the Statistics Office the result was driven by exports of cars and machinery. The CTK news agency says analysts had predicted a marked surplus of exports over imports.
The EU health commissioner Markos Kyprianou has met Czech health ministry officials in Prague to discuss measures concerning a potential outbreak of bird flu, among them the country's emergency plan and strategic stockpiles of antiviral drugs and other medicines. According to the Czech Chief Hygiene Officer Michael Vit, Mr Kyprianou said the Czech Republic was well prepared for a potential epidemic of bird flu.
Some members of the opposition Civic Democrats have accused Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek of taking political advantage of the bill on registered partnerships of same-sex couples due to be voted on by the lower house this week. In a statement released on Monday, they said Mr Paroubek is trying to politically appropriate the bill and to present himself as its sole guarantor, which, as they said, may discourage some Civic Democrat deputies from voting for the bill. Both the lower house and the Senate have passed the bill, but president Vaclav Klaus vetoed it last month. To override the veto, the lower house now needs a majority of 101 votes in the 200-seat chamber.
An opinion poll just released by the Factum agency suggests that support for the ruling Social Democrats is falling three months before parliamentary elections. According to the poll, the opposition Civic Democrats would get the largest percentage of the vote and gain 68 seats in the 200-member lower house, followed by the Social Democrats with 42 MPs. The Communist Party would get 42 seats and the Christian Democrats would gain 20 seats - only three seats more than the Green Party, which, according to Factum, would be the fifth party to make it to parliament.
The EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou told reporters on Monday that unless the Czech Republic implements European anti-smoking legislation and restricts tobacco advertising, it faces sanctions from the EU. Mr Kyprianou said the European Commission will ask the Czech Republic to toughen its anti-smoking legislation. If the requirement is not met, Mr Kyprianou said, there is a number of steps, including sanctions, which the EU could apply.
The Agriculture Ministry is considering distributing information leaflets on bird flu to every household in the Czech Republic, Agriculture Minister Jan Mladek said on Monday. He added that the ministry is assessing the costs of such a campaign. He said leaflets telling consumers how to handle food products in order to minimise the risk of infection are ready for distribution.