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Gross signs EU Constitutional Treaty

Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross was among the many heads of government or heads of state on Friday to sign the European Union Constitution at a special ceremony in Rome. He and Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda were second in line to do so following representatives from Belgium; the signing on Friday took place in the lavish "Orazi and Curiazi" Hall at the Renaissance Campidoglio Palace, the site where treaties on the original European Economic Community were signed in 1957.

The newly-signed EU Constitution will now need to be ratified individually by all 25 by EU member states, either by referendum, or by parliamentary vote.

The Czech Republic is among nine EU countries that will hold a referendum.

Court denies descendents compensation for nationalised company

The descedents of a Czech family that used to own an engineering firm nationalised in Prague under the so-called Benes Decrees has been denied compensation by a Prague court. Four descendents of the original family, who now live in Canada, were seeking 20 million crowns in compensation, the equivalent of around 660, 000 euros, for the J. Kaminecek and Co. firm which was nationalised in 1946. The nationalisation process in Czechoslovakia at the time affected companies employing more than 500.

On Friday the Prague court said its ruling followed legislation recognising restitution rights only after the cut-off date of 1948. The family's lawyer has said members plan to appeal.

President Klaus awards state medals to twenty-one individuals

At a ceremony at Prague Castle on Thursday evening, President Vaclav Klaus awarded state medals to twenty-one individuals. The Order of the White Lion, the highest state distinction, was awarded to WWII veterans Frantisek Fajtl, and Rudolf Severin Krzak, the latter honoured in memoriam. Mr Klaus praised those who openly opposed the Communist system and awarded the Order of T.G. Masaryk to men who were persecuted by the regime. Among those who received orders of merit were Olympic medallist Roman Sebrle, legendary film director Otakar Vavra, and famous Czech actress Jana Brejchova.

Testing in Usti area finds 38 carriers of meningococcus bacteria; the number is well within acceptable range

Tests by hygiene officials have revealed thirty-eight people near Libesice, in the Usti nad Labem region in north Bohemia, as carrying the meningococcus bacteria which can cause deadly meningitis. However, officials say that the number of carriers, 3.4 percent of more than 1,100 checked, is well-within the acceptable range, and that all of the carriers are now being treated.

Routine testing was ordered following thirteen cases of full-blown meningitis in the Usti nad Labem region earlier this year, three of which resulted in death.

SC&C poll suggests Civic Democrats will dominate regional elections next week

A new poll conducted by SC&C commissioned by Czech Television suggests that the right-of-centre Civic Democrats may dominate in upcoming elections in regional assemblies. If regional elections were held tomorrow around 31 percent of respondents said they would back the Civic Democrats, while the Social Democrats would get only19.6 percent support, followed by the opposition Communist Party at 18.2 percent.

That means that as many as 12 out of 13 regional assemblies could go to the opposition Civic Democrats. At the same time, less than one-third of voters have said they will actually vote.

Regional elections have been planned for November 5th and 6th.

Bank robber tosses dyed money and runs

An unknown assailant was forced to toss money taken at gunpoint from a bank in Frydlant, North Bohemia, on Friday after the bills were marked by an exploding dye pack. The incident took place at around nine in the morning with police closing off the area as well as a nearby border crossing with Poland shortly afterward in an effort to apprehend the thief. But, the man has not been caught yet. A police spokeswoman refused to say how much money had been involved in the robbery, but did say no one had been injured.

If caught the assailant could face up to ten years in prison.


Saturday is expected to be cloudy with daytime temperatures of about 11 degrees Celsius.