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Foreign minister, Levitte, discuss Roma, nuclear energy

The Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg met with diplomatic advisor to the French president Jean-David Levitte on Monday to discuss a number of issues including his position on France’s recent expulsion of hundreds of Roma for not abiding by French law. Not long ago Mr Schwarzenberg criticised the move in an interview for a Czech daily, saying it was impossible not to suspect that a racist perspective had played a role. In Paris on Monday, the Czech foreign minister raised the issue again saying it was a sensitive one for him personally, not least given he had grown up not far from a camp at Lety, Bohemia during World War II where hundreds of Roma were interned. Three-hundred-and-twenty-seven died there, while more than 500 were sent to the Nazi death camp in Auschwitz.

During their meeting Mr Schwarzenberg and Mr Levitte discussed other matters as well, such as the planned completion of the Czech nuclear power plants Temelín and Dukovany, in which France has expressed an interest.

Constitutional Court chairman: more cuts would negatively impact functioning

Further cuts in the budget of the Czech Constitutional Court would affect the efficiency of its decision-making and decrease the standard of human rights protection, the court’s chairman Pavel Rychetský has said, following a meeting with the prime minister on Monday. Prime Minister Petr Nečas agreed after they met that the court was currently extended to its absolute limits, pointing out that it received some 3,500 petitions per year. As a result, the government is looking for ways to relieve the workload through possible systemic changes. The Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil has said one of the options could be the court not being obliged to justify all resolutions - rejecting complaints without proceedings, for instance, in cases where there were formal shortcomings.

Newspaper: Blanka Tunnel collapse may have been prevented through better monitoring

The daily Hospdářské noviny has reported that the partial collapse of Prague’s Blanka Tunnel in July could have been prevented if data from a monitoring system had been properly assessed and interpreted. Citing unnamed sources possessing information from the monitoring system, the paper said that the data clearly showed that there were serious problems with stability in the area of the collapse a week beforehand. The company responsible for monitoring at the site, Inset, says that while deformations in the rock were recorded in one measurement, others showed no reason for concern. The Czech Mining Office, which is investigating the incident, says it cannot comment on the allegation but has all of the necessary data available. The July collapse was the third since 2008. One worker was buried for six hours but was not injured.

Suspects in neo-Nazi case to remain in custody ahead of trial

The Czech news agency, ČTK, has reported that two members of the now defunct Workers’ Party, suspected of having supported and promoted movements aimed at suppressing human rights and freedoms will remain in custody pending trial. The accused are Patrik Vondrák and Michaela Dupová along with six others. Their case is being heard by the district court in Prague 1. Police and specialists in extremism believe the group includes top members of the Czech neo-Nazi movement. The state prosecutor has charged the suspects with having organised ultra-right demonstrations, white power concerts, and having promoted hate groups. Both Mr Vondrák and Ms Dupová previously applied for release ahead of trial.

President to speak in Lower House on Tuesday, contents of speech kept tightly under wraps

The contents of a speech Czech President Václav Klaus will deliver in the Lower House of Parliament on Tuesday have been kept tightly under wraps but there is strong speculation that he will focus on the current direction the country is taking. The last time the president spoke in the Chamber of Deputies was during his first term in 2003. Then, Mr Klaus strongly criticised the Social Democrat-led government of Vladimír Špidla for the high deficit as well as some of its reforms; it is unclear what tact the president will take this time around as the current government prepares to implement broad austerity measures. Some, such as the speaker of the Lower House, Miroslava Němcová of the Civic Democrats, have indicated they expect the speech to be one of substance; others, such as the opposition Social Democrats have already criticised Mr Klaus for not speaking more often before MPs. By comparison, his predecessor, Václav Havel, addressed the Lower House on eight occasions.

Police report lowest number of road fatalities over first eight months in 21 years

Czech police have revealed that 466 people have died on Czech roads since the beginning of 2010 – the lowest number of traffic fatalities over the same period in 21 years. One hundred-and-seventy of the deaths occurred during the summer holidays, which – with the exception of last year and 2006, has otherwise never dropped below 200. Josef Tesařík of the police presidium revealed on Monday that those who died in tragic road accidents over the summer included 54 motorists, 23 passengers, 34 motorcyclists, 27 cyclists, and 15 pedestrians. Thirty fatalities were the result of driving mistakes leading vehicles into on-coming traffic.

Controversial artwork sold to Plzeň museum

Entropa, a controversial sculpture by well-known Czech artist David Černý that caused a scandal in Brussels in 2009, has found a permanent home in Plzeň. A museum known as Techmania acquired the artwork and held its opening ceremony on Monday; the work was bought for a reported 10.2 million crowns. According to the museum’s director, Vlastimil Volák, the artwork and other installations on site will be used to fuel discussion on European issues. Back in 2008, the artwork, then unspecified, was commissioned by Mirek Topolánek’s centre-right government to officially represent the Czech Republic during its EU presidency. After its unveiling it caused a scandal in the manner it depicted national stereotypes within the 27-member union, representing Bulgaria, for example, as a Turkish squat toilet.

Court rules filmmakers must pay back 54 million crown bank loan

Prague’s Municipal Court has ruled that filmmaker Juraj Jakubisko and his wife Deana will have to pay back an outstanding 54 million crown loan owed to Česká spořitelna - funds provided by the bank for the making of the 2008 film Bathory. The bank has a bill of exchange for the amount which it said should originally been paid back by the end of 2008, meaning the borrowers were in default. The ruling can still be appealed – a move reportedly being considered by Mrs Jakubisková who was present at the court session on Monday. In addition, the Jakubiskos reportedly also have a number of other legal disputes with the bank. The film Bathory, which won a Czech Lion award for Best Art Direction, cost roughly 328 million crowns (or roughly 17 million US dollars) to produce.

Website: Police arrest youths behind theft and fatal beating of elderly man

Police have arrested two suspected thieves - aged 17 and 19 – in western Bohemia, wanted for stealing and for a brutal attack on 82-year-old man in Prague in July, the news website Novinky has reported. In the theft they stole 50 crowns (the equivalent of around 2.6 US dollars) and beat the elderly man so severely he died two days later in hospital from his injuries. The two suspects, one of whom is still a minor, will remain in custody ahead of trial. If found guilty, each could face up to 12 years in prison.

Tennis: Davis Cup team complete ahead of semi-final

The Czech team will be at full strength in the upcoming semi-final of tennis’ Davis Cup in Belgrade the team’s non-playing coach Jaroslav Navrátil has confirmed. Nominated are Jan Hájek and Ivo Minář, together with the country’s two strongest players Radek Štepánek and Tomáš Berdych - both of whom missed the quarterfinal in Chile due to injury. Earlier this year, Berdych came second in his first-ever Grand Slam final at Wimbledon; but he has struggled since and was unexpectedly downed in the first round of the US Open last week. Last year, the Czech team made it all the way to the Davis Cup final but was defeated by Spain. This year’s semi-final takes place in Serbia beginning on September 17.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be clear to partly cloudy with daytime highs between 15 and 20° Celsius.