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Czech officials react heatedly to Schwarzenberg's expulsion from Cuba

Czech officials and politicians have reacted heatedly to Cuba's expulsion of a Czech senator, demanding an explanation. Senator Karel Schwarzenberg was thrown out of the country late Thursday, soon after arriving to meet with Cuban dissidents. So far, Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda has reacted by saying the expulsion was proof the Czech Republic's tough stance on Cuba was justified. Senate chairman Premysl Sobotka, meanwhile, has described the expulsion as "a blatant violation of international rights".

Karel Schwarzenberg is the former head of the presidential office under former Czech president Vaclav Havel, himself a strong critic of Fidel Castro's regime. The European Union is to decide soon whether to reinstate diplomatic sanctions against Cuba on the basis of human rights violations. The Czech Republic has been pushing the EU not to soften its stance.

Prime minister, health minister & insurance companies fail to reach agreement over doctors' pay

The prime minister, the health minister Milada Emmerova, and the heads of Czech health insurance companies failed to reach an agreement over doctors' pay on Friday, although a decision may come as early as one week's time. Doctors would like to see higher remuneration for their work, something which insurance companies are warning could raise health insurance debt from 10 to 34 billion crowns, approximately 1.5 billion US. Without a raise the head of the Czech Doctors' Association David Rath has suggested doctors could curb the number of patient - doctor meetings without having a negative effect on the quality of individual treatment, lessening the work load. The prime minister, however, has already said he was not interested in the idea of patients receiving less care. All the parties involved are expected to meet again next week to decide the issue.

Paroubek, Gross, deny going head-to-head over elections leader post

Both Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and the chairman of the Social Democratic Party, Stanislav Gross, have denied they might face each other in an eventual showdown for their party's post of electoral leader. Speaking together with Mr Gross on Friday the prime minister said no conflict existed between himself and Mr Gross, who he considers a personal friend. While he did express an interest in being named his party's election leader, Mr Paroubek stressed the post could fall to a number of highly placed Social Democrats, including Culture Minister Pavel Dostal or Education Minister Petra Buzkova. Both he and Mr Gross said their party would conduct extensive research & analysis to decide on the best person for the job.

The Social Democrats, along with the Czech Republic's other political parties, have roughly twelve months in which to prepare for national elections next year.

Roma student to receive compensation for racially-motivated attack

A Prague court has ordered four men found guilty of a racially-motivated attack against a Roma student in 2002, to pay the victim compensation of 25, 000 crowns each - the equivalent of around four thousand dollars US. All four have also been ordered to provide written letters of apology. In October 2002 the four youths, the oldest of whom was 19 years of age, attacked the Roma student near a Prague metro station. The student, Marek Polak, suffered cuts, bruises, and a concussion. His attackers all received suspended sentences, the longest: three years in prison.

Woman, boy, treated in hospital after dog attack

A 38-year-old woman and her 13-year-old son had to be treated in hospital on Friday after being attacked at their cottage by their pet dog. For unknown reasons the animal, a Staffordshire bull terrier, went wild and attacked its owners, first the boy, and then his mother as she came to help. Both suffered serious injury to their hands. In the end police arriving at the scene were forced to shoot the animal. The incident took place at a cottage colony near Brno.


The weekend should see sunny weather and daytime temperatures of around 22 degrees Celsius.