Daily news summary News

13-04-2004

Health Minister Marie Souckova to be removed from office

Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has officially requested Czech President Vaclav Klaus to remove Health Minister Marie Souckova from office. According to President Spokesman Petr Hajek, Prime Minister Spidla also sent a letter to Prague Castle, proposing to appoint Social Democrat MP Jozef Kubinyi as the new Health Minister.

Three Czech journalists missing in Iraq

The three Czech journalists who have been kidnapped by rebel Iraqi insurgents are alive and well and could be released as early as Wednesday, the Iraqi Culture Minister Mufid Jazairi said on Tuesday. Czech TV reporter Michal Kubal, his cameraman Petr Klima, and Czech Radio correspondent Vit Pohanka, have been missing since Sunday. Both Mr Kubal and Mr Klima where scheduled to catch a flight home from Jordan but never arrived in Prague. An Iraqi taxi driver has reported that he was on route to Amman, Jordan, with three Czech journalists when his vehicle was stopped by rebels west of the town of Falluja, and the three passengers were taken hostage.

Following a National Security Council meeting, Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said that the Czech Foreign Ministry, Czech Embassy in Baghdad, as well as Mr Jazairi, who has personal ties with the Czech Republic, have been in constant contact with Iraqi officials. Several teams have also been investigating at the site where the abduction is believed to have taken place. A Czech military police force specially trained for hostage situations is waiting for orders to leave for Iraq. The Czech government is scheduled to discuss further security measures during its session on Wednesday.

Czechs advised to leave Iraq

Czech citizens have been advised to leave Iraq, following the abduction of tens of foreigners, including three Czech journalists. Those who cannot leave the country should stay at safe locations, Czech Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda said on Tuesday. The Czech humanitarian organisation, People in Need, has begun pulling its workers out of Iraq.

Czech Police launch another road safety campaign

The Czech Police launched an extensive road safety campaign on Tuesday, in an effort to keep the number of accidents caused by drink driving or the bad technical state of vehicles at a minimum. For the rest of the week, several thousand police officers will monitor drivers and their cars in the nationwide operation named Krystof 004. Statistics show that the number of deaths from road accidents has decreased since 2003. Czech police spokeswoman Blanka Kosinova says, it is regular operations such as Krystof, or Christopher (named after the patron saint of travellers) that help to keep these figures low. Krystof 004 was preceded by operation X four weeks ago, when 54 drivers under the influence of alcohol and 12,555 driving offences were recorded.

GfK: Czech Republic and Slovakia most corrupt countries in Central and Eastern Europe

More than three fifths of Czechs consider it a normal procedure to give bribes in the Czech Republic, the results of a study by the GfK (Growth from Knowledge) market research institute suggest. The study included fourteen Central and Eastern European states and ranks the Czech Republic and Slovakia in the top two places, with regards to levels of corruption. Eighty-one percent of the Czech respondents stated that politicians, state officials, and entrepreneurs support each other when it comes to taking bribes but only eighteen percent said they would be willing to report any cases of corruption to the police.

Chamber of Deputies outvotes Senate over law honouring former president

The Chamber of Deputies has outvoted the Senate's veto on a bill stating that former Czechoslovak president Edvard Benes did outstanding service to the state. Several Senators voted against the bill, saying Mr Benes did not deserve a special law in his honour. Some have questioned Mr Benes' commitment to the state, due to his passive stance at the time of the 1938 Munich agreement, which allowed Hitler enter Czechoslovakia, and the Communist take-over in 1948. The bill is yet to be signed by President Vaclav Klaus, who has the right to reject it and send it back to the lower house.

Weather

Wednesday is expected to be a sunny day with clear skies and day-time temperatures between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius.

13-04-2004