A mass baptism of Jehovah's Witnesses is being held at a football stadium in Prague on Saturday. Organisers say around 20,000 of the faith group's members from around the world are in the Czech capital for a weekend of religious ceremonies. There are over 15,000 Jehovah's Witnesses in the Czech Republic.
Around 40,000 people from the Czech Republic and elsewhere in Europe have gathered at the CzechTek free techno music festival, which is being held on Czech Army land in north Bohemia. Last year's CzechTek became the subject of political debate when around 1,000 riot police used truncheons, tear gas and water cannons to break the festival up, after complaints from landowners.
The father of Jessie Gilbert, a young British chess player who was found dead in the Czech Republic, is facing rape charges, the news agency AP reported. UK police confirmed that one of Ian Gilbert's alleged victims had died, but refused to name her. Jessie Gilbert fell from the eighth-floor window of a hotel in Pardubice, where she was attending an international chess tournament. It was not clear whether she had committed suicide or had an accident while sleepwalking.
The Croatian prime minister, Ivo Sander, received an award in Prague on Friday from the Vasek and Anna Maria Polak Foundation. The award has been presented for services to democracy and the free market since 1994, and has previously been won by Vaclav Havel and Lech Walesa. Vasek Polak had a bicycle repair shop in Prague before later building up an extremely successful car dealership business in the United States.
The lower house of the Czech Parliament has again failed to elect its
chairman. The only candidate, Christian Democrat MP Jan Kasal running for
the emerging centre-right coalition, did not receive enough support in the
chamber on Friday morning. He received 100 votes in the 200-member lower
house which is evenly split between the leftist and the centre-right
parties after the June national election.
The lower house will meet again next Friday. New candidates for the post of chairman are to be nominated by Wednesday. Before the lower house elects a chairman, the government of Prime Minister Paroubek cannot resign.
All three people charged with corruption in the case the Czech Consolidation Agency have been remanded in custody, a Prague court announced on Friday. The agency's executive board member Radka Kafkova was arrested on Tuesday night after she made a money exchange. She has been charged with large-scale corruption, along with a former employee of the agency, Josef Tykva and businessman Pavel Hrach. Police have seized 420 million Czech crowns from their bank accounts. One of the Consolidation Agency's main tasks is to bail state-owned companies out of problematic loans.
The family of a promising British chess player who plunged to her death from a hotel window in the Czech Republic paid tribute on Friday to the "exceptionally talented" teenager. Nineteen-year old Jessie Gilbert fell on Wednesday from the eighth floor of her hotel in the central city of Pardubice, where she had been competing in a chess tournament. Her family said fellow British players participating in the Czech Open tournament abandoned matches as a mark of respect. Police were continuing Friday to investigate Gilbert's death amid newspaper reports that the teenager from Surrey, southeast England, had been taking medication for depression.
The chairman of the Civic Democrats, Mirek Topolanek, who was authorised in June by President Vaclav Klaus to lead the post-election coalition talks, has said that early elections may be the way out of the political deadlock in the country. Mr Topolanek said after Friday's failed election of the lower house chairman that he was going to report to President Klaus on the state of the coalition talks on Wednesday. The would-be coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the Green Party has not been able to negotiate tolerance in the lower house with the second largest party, the Social Democrats.