A regional court in east Bohemia has sentenced two men to prison for shooting pornographic films with underage boys. The boys were paid up to 3,000 crowns for appearing in the videos and sexually pleasing one of the men - a 41 year old British national. The man was fined 200,000 crowns, sentenced to six years in prison, and will be deported after his time is served. The other man, a 22 year-old Czech, received five years.
The situation in much of the flood affected areas in the Czech Republic is
calming down as most swollen rivers have begun to recede. People are
starting to return to their homes. Water levels in the badly hit northern
region around Usti nad Labem are no longer rising but the homes of 1,645
residents are still flooded and dozens of roads remain closed. A state of
emergency declared in seven of the country's 14 regions has been extended
until April 19.
The Environment Ministry says Wednesday's rain should not lead to more flooding. Economists estimate the flood damage this year to be considerably lower than that seen in 1997 and 2002, though accurate figures will have to wait until the flood waters recede completely. Seven flood-related deaths have already been reported.
The Prague 1 district is marking the 80th birthday of the esteemed Czech sculptor Olbram Zoubek with an open-air exhibition of his work. For the next two months, his unique slender sculptures will be on display in the Ovocni Trh (Fruit Market) area between the Old Town and Wenceslas squares. The retrospective features a selection of sculptures made from 1958 up to date. Zoubek's work can be admired at various places around Prague. He is the author of the Memorial to the Victims of Communism in the city's Ujezd district.
Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan says he has no proof that CIA planes carrying war prisoners and suspected terrorists had made stopovers at Prague's Ruzyne Airport. According to human rights watchdog Amnesty International, the planes made a total of twenty stopovers in the Czech capital. There has been ongoing speculation in the world media that the CIA transported suspected terrorists to jails in countries where they could be tortured. The organisation has asked Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan for an explanation, saying that the Czech Republic may have assisted the CIA in violating international law
The European Parliament has called on to the EU fifteen to lift a curb on workers from the newest European Union members, including the Czech Republic, who are still facing labour market restrictions. The only countries of the EU fifteen that have their labour markets open so far are Britain, Ireland, and Sweden. Finland, Spain, and Portugal will open their doors to labourers when a two-year transition period ends in May. Germany, Austria, and France will most likely refuse the European Parliament's request and uphold their restrictions on foreign workers.
A seventh case of bird flu has been reported in the Czech Republic. The state veterinary office confirmed on Tuesday that another swan found dead in the Vltava River in south Bohemia was infected with the H5 virus. The first case of H5 appeared ten days ago and the laboratory in Weybridge confirmed that the swan had died of the deadly H5N1 variety. All the other cases of H5 are swans found in the close vicinity. The safety measures introduced include a ban on the transport of live birds, poultry products and eggs, the use of disinfectants and a close monitoring of both the wild-bird population and the small farms and big holdings.
Environment Minister Libor Ambrozek has had to cancel a decree that took effect two weeks ago and was intended to curb illegal waste imports from Germany. The decree proved problematic since hundreds of lorries carrying material for recycling could not cross the border because of it, thereby damaging Czech recycling companies. The decree also stipulated that used paper and plastics could only be imported with the ministry's written consent and the ministry was reportedly flooded with applications.
The Czech Republic's foreign trade surplus shrank to 7.05 billion koruna (248 million euros) in February from 11.24 billion koruna in January, the National Statistics Authority announced Tuesday, citing higher prices paid for imported natural gas and oil. Exports in the machinery and auto sectors were the main factors fuelling the surplus, the CSU said.
Some parties have decided to cut back on their election campaign expenditures and donate the money to flood victims. The ruling Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats say they plan to donate a million crowns each. The Communists are to debate the matter on Thursday. The right of centre Civic Democrats have not announced any cuts as yet. Charity organizations have also opened up accounts for public donations.
The leader of the Green Party Martin Bursik has demanded an apology from Prague's mayor Pavel Bem for suggesting that Bursik had used his position at the Prague city hall to get a high subsidy for the reconstruction of his Prague flat. Bem told Nova television on Monday that the subsidy granted to Bursik was unusually high and that the short time in which it was granted was not a standard procedure. He said that applying for the subsidy at a time when he was a member of the Prague Town Hall was obviously a conflict of interests. Bursik said this was an attempt to damage him before the elections