Police President Jiri Kolar has said that crime in the Czech Republic has been dropping in the last two years after reaching a record rate in 1999. Police statistics have shown a drop of several percent in all categories of crime since 1999, with the exception of petty theft, Mr Kolar said and added that this country was not producing murderers and rapists, but thieves. About 350,000 criminal acts were committed in the Czech Republic last year, with 80 percent of property or economic crime. Violent crime represented 6.3 percent of the total.
Two Czechs arrested and charged on Monday with attempting to smuggle protected native orchids out of New Zealand have been remanded on bail for one week to appear again in the Manukau District Court near Auckland on the charges, stipulated under the Trade in Endangered Species Act. If found guilty, the two men could face up to five years in prison, as smuggling orchids is a serious crime under New Zealand law. The arrests of Cestmir Cihalik, Dean of Medicine at Olomouc University, and Jindrich Smitak, an employee of the Czech Environmental Inspection Agency in Brno, were based on video evidence which the authorities said clearly showed them stealing the orchids from a national park near Auckland.
Czech Rails say they are planning to lay off 6,000 redundant workers, most of them by April 1. Czech Rails management are to discuss the move with labour unions next Wednesday. Czech Rails say they are preparing a special social scheme for those laid off, especially older people.
The senior opposition Civic Democrats say they will back the government's proposal to send a Czech military unit to Afghanistan only if the cabinet meets their conditions. The Civic Democrats want the government to say how the mission will be financially covered and to reduce the number of Czech soldiers in Kosovo. The party also wants the government to prove that the military has enough people for three rotations of the Afghan unit and to remove the unit from subordination to the military intelligence service. The lower house should discuss the proposal by the end of February. The troops should leave by the end of June.
The Communist Party say that the first Czechoslovak cosmonaut Vladimir Remek has confirmed he is interested in running for a seat in the European Parliament for the Czech Communist Party. The party's vice chairman Miloslav Ransdorf is expected to top the list of the Communists' candidates for the European Parliament, and according to speculation Vladimir Remek could come second in Sunday's secret vote of the party's central committee. The Czech Republic will have 24 MEPs in Strasbourg.
Friday should be a bright and sunny day with temperatures ranging from minus 9 to minus 5 degrees Celsius.
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