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Ex-minister Svoboda gets five years for fraud

Former finance minister Ivo Svoboda has been sentenced to five years in prison for fraud while he was an executive at a pram-making company which subsequently collapsed. His co-defendant Barbora Snopkova was given a five-and-a-half-year sentence by the Central Bohemian Regional Court on Wednesday. Mr Svoboda served as finance minister from March 1997 to April 1999 in the minority Social Democrat government led by Milos Zeman.

Government approves bill to thoroughly reform education system

After long and difficult negotiations the government on Wednesday approved a bill aimed at thoroughly reforming the Czech Republic's education system. Among other things, the bill envisages more importance being placed on the creative use of information by school pupils and less emphasis on rote-learning. Furthermore, the current "maturita" school-leaving exams would be replaced from 2008. The government bill is expected to raise some debate when it goes before Parliament.

Schools hold minute's silence for teacher stabbed to death in class

Schools around the Czech Republic held a minute's silence on Wednesday in honour of teacher Bohuslav Sibl, who was stabbed to death by a 16-year-old pupil in the east Bohemian town of Svitavy last week. The classroom killing was the first of its kind in this country, and has provoked a widespread debate about young people and violence.

Defence Ministry denies claims Czech unit to be deployed during Olympics

Some of the Czech Army's anti-chemical specialists will be among NATO forces employed to provide security during August's Olympic Games in Athens, the British newspaper the Guardian reported on Wednesday. However, a spokesman for the Czech Defence Ministry said no such deployment was being considered, adding that the anti-chemical unit was not used for such purposes.

GDP figures for 2003 slightly higher than expected, real wages up 6.7%

The Czech Republic's gross domestic product grew by 2.9 percent last year, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Czech Statistical Office. Growth was slightly higher than analysts had predicted. Meanwhile, gross wages grew by 6.8 percent last year, while real wages grew by 6.7 percent.


Thursday should be cloudy with some clear spells in places. The maximum temperature is expected to be 7 degrees Celsius.