A court in Ostrava, in the north-east of the country, on Wednesday sentenced a 55-year-old man to 18 months in prison for failing to pay over 200,000 crowns in fees for his hospital stays. According to the prosecution, the man spent most of the time between late 2007 and last November in hospitals; he owes money to some 70 Czech hospitals. He also often ordered above-standard services although he was not be able to pay for them. The man is believed to suffer from Munchausen syndrome, a disorder characterized by feigning diseases to attract attention and sympathy. Both the defendant and the prosecutor said they consider appealing the verdict.
English actress Helen Mirren is set to receive a lifetime achievement reward at this year’s Karlovy Vary International Film Festival, the festival’s spokeswoman said on Wednesday. At the festival, Ms Mirren will present the film The Door by the Hungarian director István Szabó. During her visit, the actress will be accompanied by her husband, the director and producer Taylor Hackford who last year chaired the festival’s jury. The 47th Karlovy Vary International Festival will take place between June 29 and July 7.
The Czech national hockey team on Thursday left Prague for the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship which takes place in Finland and Sweden. Coach Alois Hadamczik is waiting to hear from defense player Zbynek Michálek, who has been having issues with his hip and may not be able to join the Czech ranks at the championship. The coach has said that he anticipates the Czech Republic’s first match, against Denmark, will not be an easy one. He added that he and the team were looking forward to the challenge.
Sigma Olomouc beat Sparta Prague 1:0 on Wednesday night to win the Czech FA cup. The cup final, played in Plzeň, saw the only goal two minutes into the second half when Olomouc defender Michal Vepřek threw the ball in on the left side, got it back and made his way into the box where he produced a hard shot to the far corner. The win sweetens the season for Olomouc who had nine points taken away from them over match-fixing. For their part, Sparta might wrap the season empty handed as their chances of winning the league are growing thinner.
Heavy thunderstorms are expected to hit the Czech Republic late on Thursday afternoon and in the early evening. Small rivers may flood and some cellars could also be affected by the torrential downpours, the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute has said. However, the rain will help reduce the danger of fires that firefighters expected in recent days due to the hot and dry weather.
Former rector of Brno’s Masaryk University Petr Fiala was on Wednesday
appointed the new education minister. Mr Fiala, who has also served as
chief science and research advisor to PM Petr Nečas, assumed the post a
month after his predecessor stepped down over problems with securing EU
funds. The nomination of the former rector and political scientist, who is
unaffiliated with any political party, was agreed upon by both parties in
the ruling coalition.
Ahead of his appointment, Mr Fiala said he could not promise a miracle but would try to stabilize the education sector. The opposition has welcomed the appointment but predicted that as an independent expert, Mr Fiala will find it difficult to deal with his colleagues in the centre-right government.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday postponed debate on the bill
that would return church property confiscated by the communist regime in
the 1950s. Several coalition MPs have expressed objections to the
legislation, and the coalition might not have enough votes to pass it. Head
of the lower house’ constitutional committee, Civic Democrat Marek Benda,
said MPs could start debating the controversial bill in June.
Under the draft legislation, churches and religious groups would receive 56 percent of the confiscated property worth around 75 billion crowns; as reimbursement for the rest, the state would pay them 59 billion crowns over a period of 30 years.
For the second time since their introduction last year, the new state school-leaving exams began on Wednesday at Czech secondary schools with tests in the Czech language. Some 103,000 students are taking the exams this year. They are available in two versions; however only 4 percent of students chose the more difficult alternative. Besides Czech, the exams are held in either mathematics or a foreign language, with around 44 percent of students choosing maths. The oral part of the exams will be held later in May. The project of standardized school-leaving exams was criticized for excessive bureaucracy and high costs.
The Czech Republic came first in the Global Vice Index, compiled by the news agency Bloomberg, which ranks 57 countries of the world according to alcohol and cigarette consumption, drug use and gambling losses. Based on data from the World Health Organization, the Czech Republic tops the list of alcohol consumption per capita while it ranks second in drug use, fifth in the consumption of cigarettes, and 12th in gambling losses. The survey focused on those aged between 15 and 64.
Czech Health Minister Leoš Heger on Wednesday met with Vatican officials to discuss the role of the Roman Catholic Church in providing health care. Mr Heger said both sides agreed that a great majority of the funds returned to the church as part of a property restitution deal should be used to pay for health care. The Czech heath minister on Wednesday also attended the general audience with Pope Benedict XVI whom he presented with sheet music by Czech composers.