Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Finance Minister Bohumil Sobotka are in disagreement over how to proceed with a controversial arbitration case that could cost the state 40 billion crowns (over 1.5 billion US dollars). A London court is currently handling a complaint against the Czech Republic filed by the Japanese investment bank, Nomura. Nomura claims that the Czech government failed to protect its investment when it ordered the enforced administration of the ailing IPB bank, in which Nomura had shares, and its subsequent sale to a rival Czech banking institution, CSOB five years ago. Nomura is demanding 40 billion Czech crowns in compensation.
From information received by the Czech intelligence services, Prime Minister Paroubek fears the state could lose the case and would like it to try to come to an agreement with Nomura. Mr Sobotka believes that any such agreement would violate state guarantees promised to CSOB in 2000.
Prague police are still searching for a young man, who fired two shots at another man at Prague's Karlovo namesti (Charles' square) park early on Tuesday evening. The victim, a chief technician at the country's leading commercial station TV Nova, came to the aid of a woman, who was being harassed by the assailant. The 32-year old was rushed to hospital but died from his injuries that night. Witnesses say they called the police earlier, when they saw the offender standing under a tree with a gun but the police came too late.
The Government has approved a defence ministry proposal to give Egypt 550 tonnes of ammunition that is no longer being used by the Czech Army. This saves the state 50 million crowns (a little over 2 million US dollars); the cost of its ecological disposal. Egypt asked for the ammunition in April and will cover all transport costs.
The Czech Army has 20,000 tonnes of redundant ammunition that should either be sold or given away; 46,000 tonnes will be disposed of ecologically. Only one third of the ammunition has so far been disposed of. Afghanistan and Georgia have received several thousand tonnes, while Iraq is also considered a potential candidate.
Ecologists say they have found a large number of expired medications buried close to a cave in Moravia. Laboratory tests showed that the underground water, which serves as drinking water for a nearby town with 5,000 inhabitants, has not been contaminated. The dump contained tablets, creams, and other medication that was used at military general treatment rooms years ago. This is the third such dumping ground found in the Moravsky Kras protected landscape area. All three are believed to have been there since the 1970s, when the area was used by the Czechoslovak Army to serve as a secret nuclear bomb shelter in the Cold War years.
The Prague Symphony Orchestra has announced it will have a new chief conductor next season. Jiri Kout is currently Chief Conductor of the St. Gallen Symphony Orchestra in Switzerland. The 67 year-old artist left Czechoslovakia in the 1970s and built a career staging operas in German theatre halls. Mr Kout began performing regularly in the Czech Republic in the mid-1990s, with one of his most recent Bedrich Smetana's My Country at last year's Prague Spring international music festival.
The Czech publishing house, Albatros, has announced that the official Czech version of the sixth instalment of JK Rowling's Harry Potter series is coming out on December 19. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince has been in bookstores in the original English language since mid-July. A pirate Czech translation was available on the internet for a couple of weeks but taken off the web following complaints by Albatros, which has exclusive ownership rights to translations of J.K. Rowling's work.
The next few days should have overcast skies. Day-time temperatures are expected to fall gradually from 24 degrees Celsius to reach 18 degrees Celsius this weekend.
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