Daily news summary News

03-10-2004

Bublan defends approach of police during arrests over alleged bribery attempt

The interior minister, Frantisek Bublan, has defended the approach of the police during the arrest on Thursday of two men charged with trying to bribe an MP to bring down the government. Lobbyist Jan Vecerek was arrested at his home at 6 a.m., while Marek Dalik - assistant to the head of the Civic Democrats - was detained a couple of hours later. They were released on Friday after the state attorney rejected a police request to remand them in custody.

President Vaclav Klaus was one of several politicians who criticized the manner of the arrests, calling them "theatrical". However, speaking on Czech Television on Sunday, Minister Bublan said politicians ought not to evaluate investigations while they were still taking place.

MP Zdenek Koristka says Mr Dalik and Mr Vecerek, acting on behalf of Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, offered him 10 million crowns (around 300,000 euros) to bring down the government, which has a majority of just one, in a confidence vote. The main opposition party strenuously deny the allegation.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who Mr Topolanek has suggested is behind the whole affair, said on Sunday that whoever had a clear conscience had no reason to be "hysterical".

Gross says Social Democrats like sick man risen from deathbed

At a meeting of his Social Democratic Party on Rip Mountain on Sunday, Mr Gross said he was optimistic the party would increase their representation in the Senate and in regional government after elections next month. The prime minister said the Social Democrats were like a patient who had been on his deathbed but was now well again. Polls suggest support for the party increased after the departure of former leader Vladimir Spidla.

Police continue search for man not released by kidnappers despite ransom payment

Police are continuing their search for a businessman who was kidnapped ten days ago. The father of Stanislav Brunclik paid a ransom of several million crowns to the kidnappers, who did not release him. Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said on Sunday Mr Brunclik's parents had made a mistake in not going to the police immediately.

Eurostat: Czech Republic has highest divorce rate in EU

The Czech Republic has the highest divorce rate in the European Union, according to figures just released by Eurostat. The Czechs, with 3.1 divorces per 1,000 citizens, are just ahead of the Estonians and the Belgians when it comes to the number of failed marriages. The marriage rate in this country is, at 5.12 per 1,000 Czechs, in line with the EU average.

Mezzo-soprano Kozena wins prestigious award from UK classical music magazine

Czech mezzo-soprano Magdalena Kozena has been named artist of the year by British classical music magazine Gramophone. In 2001 Ms Kozena, who is from the Moravian capital Brno, won the magazine's vocal of the year award for the album Love Songs.

Upcoming Czech tennis player Berdych, 19, wins first ATP title

Czech tennis player Tomas Berdych has capped a great year by winning his first ATP title, the Sicily International tournament. Berdych, who recently turned 19, won almost $400,000 prize money when he beat Italy's Filippo Volandri 6-3 6-3 in Sunday's final. The Czech hit the headlines during the Olympic Games, when he knocked out world number one Roger Federer.

Weather

Monday should be partly cloudy, with temperatures ranging from 18 to 22 degrees Celsius.

03-10-2004