The Czech Republic and Iraq have signed an agreement on a Czech donation of military firearms as well as uniforms to be used by Iraqis in the protection of significant cultural sites. The agreement, signed by the Czech defence minister and the Iraqi ambassador to Prague, will see some 1,500 submachine guns, 50 machine guns, and 1,500 uniforms no longer in use by the Czech Army, to be donated for Iraqi personnel to guard sites that have been subject to heavy looting and damages since the outbreak of war in Iraq. The donated material is expected to reach Iraq in several weeks in a transport delivery organised by NATO. The Iraqi government has classified the donation as "humanitarian" rather than military.
In total the Czech government has put forward some 78 million US dollars in recent years towards the reconstruction of Iraq, funds used in humanitarian aid, the running of a Czech field hospital in Basra, and the training of Iraqi police.
In related news, the Czech Army has said it is prepared to send humanitarian aid to areas stricken by recent natural disasters, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India hit by a devastating earthquake in Central and South Asia, and Guatemala in Central America, hit by Hurricane Stan and resulting mudslides. According to the Army, materials sent to individual countries could include tents and blankets, depending on the situation. Funds for Guatemala are also likely to be set aside by the Czech Republic - but a concrete decision has not been taken yet.
On Monday security was increased at the Czech Republic's two nuclear power stations, Dukovany and Temelin, after an anonymous caller warned of an explosion at both plants. A spokesman for the Dukovany plant on Monday said the caller contacted fire fighters on Sunday evening. But, police searches at both plants failed to find any explosives or any signs of tampering on site. Emergency staff meetings were called at both facilities.
The nature of the extra security measures, meanwhile, has not been specified.
The Finance Ministry has said that the Czech Republic' state debt increased by 19 billion crowns (792 million US dollars) and reached 662.6 billion crowns (27.6 billion US dollars) in the third quarter of 2005.
Union leaders say they are planning extensive demonstrations in Prague in support of a new Labour Code draft submitted by the Social Democrats, promising significant changes to the labour laws. Union leaders say they will try to drum up support of at least 25,000 in favour of the bill, which has drawn criticism from businesses and entrepreneurs. Areas of contention include greater jurisdiction by unions, and stricter conditions for laying-off employees. The ruling Social Democrats agreed on the bill at the government level despite objection by the Christian Democrats. The draft has yet to be passed in Parliament.
Milan Volf, the former mayor of Kladno, a town near Prague, has been charged with abuse of public office. The former mayor allegedly misused some 41 million crowns in the city coffers (the equivalent of 1.6 million US dollars) for the construction of a local stadium, without getting approval from town hall. He is also charged for having obtained for his use as mayor, without tender, a luxury car. Mr Volf has denied any wrongdoing. If found guilty, he could be sent to prison for up to 8 years.
Two people were injured in a tram accident in Prague on Monday morning. A 25-year old woman and a two-year-old boy sustained light injuries when two trams collided in Prague 3 at 10 am. One of the trams derailed as a result of the crash. The causes of the accident are being investigated.
Frantisek Veleta, the driver of a small truck involved in an accident last year that killed ice hockey legend and national team coach Ivan Hlinka, has been given a two-year suspended sentence. On Monday a regional court found Mr Veleta guilty of not granting right of away, leading to the collision. The driver has also been banned from getting behind the wheel for five years. Mr Veleta's defence has appealed the decision, and will be seeking a full acquittal.
The Czech national ice hockey coach Ivan Hlinka was 54 when he died. He is best remembered for leading the Czechs to Olympic Gold in Nagano, Japan, in 1998.
Tuesday is expected to be sunny with a daytime temperature of around 19 degrees Celsius.
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