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Disability advocates criticize Czech approach to patients

An international human rights group, the Budapest-based Mental Disability Advocacy Center has criticized the Czech Republic over its approach to patients with mental illnesses, the Czech news agency ČTK reported on Friday, quoting the group’s report on the state of psychiatric care in the country. Czech hospitals continue restraining their patients and placing them in caged beds, according to the report that is to be presented in Prague on Monday. The findings are based on visits to nine out of 26 Czech hospitals and psychiatric wards; the rest reportedly denied access to the group’s experts, or ignored their requests. In 2003, the Czech Republic came under international criticism over the use of caged beds which were then prohibited by the Czech government.

Finance Ministry replaces Czech Aeroholding board members

The Finance Ministry on Friday replaced several members of Czech Aeroholding’s board of directors and of its supervisory board, the ministry said in a press release. Three out of five members of the state-owned firm’s board of directors were dismissed including Czech Airlines CEO Philippe Moreels. Meanwhile, five out of seven members of company’s supervisory board were also replaced; among its new members is the economist and former presidential candidate Jan Švejnar. The ministry said the changed were implemented to better prepare the company, with its subsidiaries Czech Airlines and Prague Václav Havel Airport, for its public listing in the future.

Czech education budget to increase by 3.8 billion next year

The Czech education budget is set to increase next year by 3.8 billion crowns, Education Minister Marcel Chládek told reporters on Friday. Mr Chládek said that besides the originally planned increase of two billion, earmarked for raising teachers’ salaries, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka had also agreed to up the budget by another 1.8 billion. Minister Chládek said the additional funds would be used to finance some of the ministry’s long-term projects and to improve schools’ equipment, among other things.

Police discover charge 429 people in major anti-drug operation

The Czech police have discovered 62 drug labs, 63 marihuana grow-ops and charged 429 people with drug-related offences in a major anti-drug operation, police president Tomáš Tuhý told a news conference in Prague on Friday. Detectives have also seized 16 kilos of illicit substances in the labs as well as 43 kilos of marihuana during the operation that lasted two months. In total, 108 of those charged were foreign nationals, Mr Tuhý said, adding the operation focused on regions bordering on Germany. The Czech police are cooperating with their German colleagues to curb exports of methamphetamine from the Czech Republic to Germany.

Czech foreign debt decreases slightly in Q1

Czech foreign debt decreased by over 64 billion to 2.15 trillion crowns in the first quarter of the year compared to the previous quarter, according to figures released by the Czech National Bank on Friday. Year on year, however, the debt rose by some 151 billion and now amounts to 54.8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The quarterly decrease is due to Czech banks’ repaying of some of their foreign debt in the final quarter of last year, the central bank said. Foreign debt of the private sector also decreased but the public sector’s exposure, which represents some 30 percent of the debt, rose due to the government’s bonds sold to foreign investors.

New Central Bohemia governor elected

The regional assembly of the Central Bohemian region on Friday elected Social Democrat MP Miloš Petera the region’s new governor. Mr Petera succeeds party colleague Josef Řihák who stepped down on Monday over disputes within the Social Democrat group in Central Bohemia. Mr Petera, who has served as deputy governor, said he would give up his seat in the lower house of Parliament to be able to fully dedicate himself to his duties. Opposition councillors from the Civic Democrat and TOP 09 parties criticized the result of Friday’s vote, and said they wanted to know the real reasons behind the previous governor’s resignation.

Foreign affairs and trade ministries to jointly promote Czech business interests

The ministries of foreign affairs and trade have signed an agreement on cooperation in assisting Czech exports and promoting the country’s business interests abroad. The ministries have set up a new system of cooperation which includes the establishment of a Client Centre for exporters and investors and a network coordinating the business-related activities of Czech embassies and Czech Trade offices located abroad. The Foreign Ministry’s Diplomatic Academy and the Export Academy of Czech Trade will also provide special training programs in economic diplomacy.

Three men sentenced to jail over solar power fraud

A court in Brno on Friday handed out prison sentences to three men for attempted fraud over the licencing of a solar power plant. The court said the owner of the plant in Držovice, south Moravia, applied for a licence in 2010 to get a higher purchase price for electricity despite the fact no solar panels were installed at the time. Higher purchase prices were only granted to plants installed before the end of that year. The plant’s owner was sentenced to 6.5 years in jail while another man, who supplied fake documents, landed a seven-year sentence. The court also sentenced an employee of the plan to 5.5 years in jail for his role in the attempted fraud.

Národní třída metro station reopens after two-year break

Prague’s Národní třída metro station reopened to the public on Friday after undergoing a major reconstruction. The station was closed in the summer of 2012 in order to enable a large developer’s project in the vicinity. Národní třída, located in the city centre on the metro’s B line, is one of the busiest transport nodes in Prague, used by around 21 thousand passengers daily.

Tennis: Záhlavová-Strýcová stuns Li-Na to reach Wimbledon quarterfinals

Czech tennis player Barbora Záhlavová-Strýcová stunned world number two Li Na of China 7-6, 7-6 in a third-round match at Wimbledon on Friday, and has advanced to the tournament’s quarterfinals. The 28-year old Czech, who is ranked 43rd in the world, said defeating Li-Na at Wimbledon to reach her first ever Grand Slam quarterfinals was the greatest win of her career.