A 31-year-old Czech man has been given eleven years in prison by a court in Pilsen for planning to murder his wife in 2005. The man went as far as advertising on the Internet for a contract killer. He was offering a sum of 2,000 euros - the equivalent of 2,500 US dollars for the killing; the murder was meant to look like an accident. In court the accused denied any wrong-doing, saying the advert had only been intended as "provocation". In the case the accused was also charged and found guilty of sexually abusing his stepdaughter.
The presidents of the Visegrad Four - the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Poland - have met at the Lany Chateau in the Czech Republic to discuss the repercussions of a possible delay in the enlargement of the borderless Schengen area within the European Union. All agreed on Friday that their countries were ready to join the zone in 2007 according to original plans, and they indicated that anything less would amount to discrimination. Czech President Vaclav Klaus said the sentiment was shared by all four Visegrad heads of state, with Polish President Lech Kaczynski agreeing that he and his counterparts were united on the issue.
The opposition Social Democrats have issued a statement saying they
will ask Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to explain the circumstances of
the purchase of his Prague flat and a past business deal in parliament.
On Friday the head of the party's deputies' group, Michal Hasek,
stressed that Mr Topolanek's financial affairs will be among the top
issues taken up by the Social Democrats in the chamber. Currently
police are investigating allegations that the VAE company - in which Mr
Topolanek had a stake - failed to repay part of a 70 million crown bank
The issue under investigation is whether the new prime minister - then senator - sold his stake in the company and used the money to buy his family flat, rather than using the funds to repay part of VAE's debt. Earlier this week Mr Topolanek stated that the sale of his shares in the company - worth 2.5 million crowns or the equivalent of 111 thousand US dollars - was not irregular, as the shares were not blocked at the time. By then a new company had acquired the VAE claim. Mr Topolanek has accused his political rivals of manipulating the issue to try and weaken his party's position ahead of upcoming municipal and Senate elections.
The Prague City Hall has decided to invest another 500 million crowns in the construction of a new stretch of the C metro line in the north of Prague. The extension of the Prague metro is one of the city's priorities. The new stretch is going to be 4.6 km long, with three stations. The overall costs are estimated at 15.5 billion crowns. Construction started in 2004 and the new stations should be in operation in 2008.
The prime ministers of the Czech Republic and Slovakia voiced their opposition on Thursday to any possible delay in the proposed enlargement of the borderless Schengen area to include the 10 new European Union member states. At a joint news conference, the prime ministers responded to suggestions from Brussels that the extension of the Schengen zone could be delayed until 2008. The Slovak Prime Minister, Robert Fico said the Czech Republic and Slovakia were "technically ready" to join the zone next spring. Currently, the former 15 nations of the EU, with the exception of Britain and Ireland, but with the addition of Norway and Iceland make up the Schengen Zone.
The new Health Minister Tomas Julinek of the Civic Democrats has said he wants to introduce extra fees for above-standard health care, while the standard treatment, which must be specified first, will be fully covered by insurance. His deputy Pavel Hrobon said that the ministry also plans to introduce individual accounts for patients. Mr Julinek on Thursday presented the ministry's plans for another five years. However, it is not certain whether he would succeed in fulfilling his long-term vision as the Civic Democrat minority cabinet has yet to win confidence in the lower house where the left and right forces are equally balanced.
Czech rabbi Tomas Kucera was among the three rabbis ordained in Germany on Thursday in the first such ceremony in the country since the mass murder of Jews in the Holocaust six decades ago. The three, a German, a Czech and a South African, were ordained in the new synagogue in Dresden as 25 Jewish leaders from all over the world watched. The newly ordained rabbis said they planned to serve congregations in Munich in southern Germany, in Oldenburg in the northwest of the country and in Cape Town in South Africa.
Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has said that the adoption of the single European currency in the Czech Republic in the year 2010 in unrealistic. After meeting his Slovak counterpart, Rober Fico, in Bratislava on Thursday, Mr Topolanek said his party, the Civic Democrats, expressed their reservations about the term even before the June election, when it was proposed by the previous government. Economists say the Czech Republic might be ready to join the eurozone between 2012-2013. An opinion poll, carried out this week by the Median agency, suggests that almost four out of ten Czechs are opposed to the adoption of the euro.
The Czech foreign minister, Alexandr Vondra, on Wednesday also criticised the postponement of the enlargement of the Schengen area by at least a year. Speaking after talks with his German counterpart in Berlin, Mr Vondra told reporters the Czech Republic did not like the delay and was requesting an explanation. The European Union has said it cannot open its borders to the new EU 10 until 2008 - a year later than originally planned - because of technical reasons; Mr Vondra described that justification as weak and unsatisfactory.