Police will not launch criminal proceedings against a Czech member of the European Parliament accused by a former Czech human rights commissioner with the crime of denying the Holocaust. Petr Uhl filed a criminal complaint against the Communist MEP Miloslav Ransdorf in May for saying that a site in central Bohemia where some 1200 Romany people were interned during the Second World War was not a "concentration camp". Experts have reportedly sided with Mr Ransdorf's assertion that the site at Lety u Pisku was technically an internment camp. Over 240 Romany children and 85 adults died from disease or abuse in the Czech-run facility. At least one thousand more later were killed in Auschwitz and other death camps.
A commercial pig farm was built on the Lety site in the 1970s. This April, the European Parliament passed a resolution demanding the Czech Republic remove the farm and replace it with a fitting memorial to the Romany Holocaust. In debate that followed, MEP Ransdorf said that as a historian, he knew many "lies" had been spread about Lety, which he said was not home to a "concentration camp" in the common understanding of the term.
Czech and Slovak soldiers will serve together in a single unit of the European Union's proposed Rapid Reaction Force. Czech Defence Minister Karel Kuehnl and his Slovak counterpart Juraj Liska announced in Brussels on Monday that the joint Czech-Slovak unit should be deployable by the second half of 2009. Czechs will make up four-fifths of the 1500-member strong unit, which will be under Czech command. EU member states have agreed to form 13 such units as part of the new EU Rapid Reaction Force. The units are to be deployed for peacekeeping and other humanitarian missions with the first one fully operational by 2007.
The Czech antitrust office (UOHS) began legal proceedings on Monday against the German power giant RWE's Czech gas unit, RWE Transgas, for the suspected abuse of its dominant position. RWE Transgas is alleged to have given favourable conditions to related distributors. Several large industrial companies had lodged complaints against RWE with the Czech Energy Regulation Authority (ERU), claiming that they were pressured to sign supply contracts that would have had them paying more for natural gas than do domestic purchasers.
The Czech poet and author Miroslav Cervenka has died. He was 73. Cervenka was born in Prague and earned a degree in Czech philology, the study of ancient texts and languages. Following the invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 by the Warsaw Pact troops and the subsequent period of 'normalisation' Cervenka was labelled "politically unreliable" by the Communist authorities. He was banned from publishing his work or teaching until after the Velvet Revolution of 1989. He later taught Czech literature and was considered a leading authority on Czech poetry.
Teachers and schoolchildren in the town of Ricany, just outside Prague, braved near freezing temperatures on Monday to hold class outdoors in protest overcrowding and scarce resources. Ricany has become increasing popular in recent years with young families, due to its short commuting distance to the Czech capital. There is a waiting list for spaces at the town's two elementary schools. The mayor of Ricany says that a project has been drawn up to build a third school but the town lacks the resources.
A body recovered in the Vltava River on Monday by a Prague fisherman is believed to be that of a German woman who attempted suicide this weekend along with her husband. According to the Czech rescue service, the 47-year-old man and his 54-year-old wife slashed their wrists before plunging into the icy river on Sunday. The man survived the ordeal and is being treated for hypothermia in a Prague hospital.
Light snowfall is in the forecast for the next few days, with daytime temperatures of just above freezing.
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