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Ex-president Havel hospitalized with respiratory inflammation

Former Czech president Václav Havel was taken to Prague’s military hospital on Tuesday with acute respiratory inflammation, his assistant said. A spokeswoman for the hospital Mr Havel’s condition is stable. Mr Havel came down on Monday with respiratory problems and cancelled his programme for the next two weeks. The former dissident and politician however hopes to attend the premiere of his film debut, Leaving, scheduled for March 24. Respiratory illness is a high-risk problem for the 74-year-old former president; he underwent a lung operation in 1996 to remove a malignant tumour and has since been hospitalised on numerous occasions.

President Klaus: Czech Lisbon treaty opt-out should not foil Croatia’s EU accession

The ratification of the Czech opt-out from the EU’s Lisbon treaty should not complicate Croatia’ accession to the bloc, Czech President Václav Klaus said after meeting the Croatian head of state, Ivo Josipovic, in Prague on Tuesday. In 2009, President Klaus ratified the Lisbon treaty on condition the Czech Republic is granted an opt-out from the Charter of Fundamental Rights; the exemption is set to be ratified as part of Croatia’s EU accession treaty. However, several EU member states have suggested the exemption is ratified separately which would greatly diminish chances of the opt-out’s approval.

Klaus criticises government over handling of VAT – pension reform

The Czech government should not connect an increase in value added tax and the pension reform, as they have absolutely nothing in common, according to President Václav Klaus. Speaking to TV Nova Monday evening, Mr Klaus said he could not understand why the two issues were mixed together and that the discussion on VAT should have been led separately from talks on pension reforms. The government confirmed their agreement on pension reform last week, including a rise in the current 10 percent VAT on some goods to 20 percent as of October to cover pension reform costs. Until now, Mr Klaus has backed the cabinet and most of its plans. The pension reform is the first key law he has challenged.

MEPs criticize Canada’s visa requirements for Czech citizens

The European Parliament passed on Tuesday a resolution criticizing Canada’s visa requirements imposed on Czech citizens two years ago. The resolution also calls on the European Commission to push Ottawa to lift the requirements; if the situation is not resolved, retaliation by the EU will soon follow. Czech MEPs said the resolution was a great success for the Czech Republic that’s has been pushing for the lifting of the visas ever since they were reintroduced in 2009. Ottawa reimposed visas for Czech nationals in July 2009 to curb the number of Czech asylum seekers in Canada, mainly members of the Romany minority.

Top court rules that killing a thief is murder rather than manslaughter

The Czech Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that killing a thief must be considered a murder rather than manslaughter. The ruling is binding for all Czech courts. The court argued that theft of property does not cause “serious disturbance”, a condition required for homicide to be considered manslaughter, a spokesman for the court said. The ruling however does not apply to robberies and burglaries during which the perpetrators threaten with or use violence.

Olomouc court hands stricter sentences for arson attacks against Romany home

A higher court in Olomouc handed out on Tuesday stricter sentences for an arson attack against a Romany home that occurred last March in the city of Ostrava, in the northeast of the country. A young man, who threw a firebomb into his neighbours’ house, was sentenced to four years in jail after he was originally given a three-year suspended sentence. His mother who knew about the planned attack and did nothing to prevented, landed a sentence of 7.5 years although she previously landed 18 moths. No one was hurt in the attack but the court in Olomouc said that is was intended to kill the inhabitants of the house.

February unemployment rate drops to 9.6 percent

The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic dropped slightly in February to 9.6 percent from 9.5 percent registered the previous month, according to figures released by the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry on Tuesday. The number of new jobs increased by 2.5 percent; at the same time, labour offices around the country registered some 5,000 job seekers fewer than in January. The areas with the highest unemployment rate include Jeseník, in northern Moravia, with over 20 percent jobless rate, the region of Most, with over 16 percent. The capital Prague saw the lowest unemployment rate with 4.1 percent.

Press: Czech Republic meets EU requirements for renewable power

The Czech Republic has met the 8-percent limit imposed by the EU for the production of power from renewable sources, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Tuesday. According to the paper’s calculations, more than 8 percent of electricity produced in the country last year came from renewable sources, mainly from water- and biomass-power plants while solar power plants produced around 1 percent of electricity made in the Czech Republic in 2010. By 2020, the Czech Republic should produce 13 percent of its power from renewable sources.

Photographer Miroslav Stibor dies aged 83

The Czech photographer Miroslav Stibor died in Olomouc on Monday at the age of 83, the news agency ČTK reported. Mr Stibor, who received the international MFIAP award in 1986, specialized in black and white art nudes. His series of 15 photographs created in 1968 for the US writer Henry Miller is considered the climax of his work, an Olomouc art historian said.

Police dog finds marihuana during routine presentation at Plzeň school

A police sniffer dog found a plastic bag full of marihuana during a routine presentation at a school in Plzeň, in western Bohemia, on Tuesday, the news agency ČTK reported. As part of a police work presentation, an officer hid a drug sample in one of the girls’ lockers for the detection dog to find. But the dog, named Quito, ran to another locker and started barking. When school staff opened the locker, they found a plastic bag full of marihuana that belonged to a 19-year-old student. A spokeswoman for the Plzeň police force said the incident is being investigated.


The next few days should see clear skies with daytime highs of around 8 degrees Celsius.