President Vaclav Klaus has announced the date of the first-ever European Parliament elections to take place in the Czech Republic. Czechs will go to the polls on June 11 and 12. Political parties and groupings have to submit their lists of candidates by April 6. The Czech Republic will have 24 seats in the European Parliament.
A court in the United States has sentenced a U.S. citizen to 21 years in prison for the murder of Petr Pospisil, a Czech entrepreneur, in the year 2000. 29-year-old computer technician Matthew McKinney, who has already spent the last two years in jail, was handed down the sentence on Wednesday. Earlier it was expected the accused might receive a life sentence, but in the end the court only found Mr McKinney guilty of 2nd degree murder. His lawyer has said his client will appeal the decision. Mr McKinney, who is the father of three and a former member of the U.S. Air Force, has denied killing Pospisil. He has claimed that the murder was committed by Vladimir Janek, a Czech national who was allegedly friends with the murder victim. Mr Janek is himself wanted by authorities in the U.S. for alleged money laundering and smuggling of illegal immigrants.
The Czech consul in Sydney Karel Srol has said the trial of two Czechs accused of smuggling rare orchids in New Zealand has been adjourned until the end of February. The two accused, Cestmir Cihalik, the dean at Palacky University's Medical Faculty in Olomouc, north Moravia, and Jindrich Smitak, a former employee of the Czech Environmental Inspectorate, have not been taken into custody, but if found guilty as charged could face a fine of up to 50,000 U.S. dollars. Earlier reports had suggested they might also face up to three years in prison. The two men were arrested in Auckland on January 18th. So far their case has already been adjourned twice.
The Austrian Sudeten German Organisation has protested against the fact that the villa currently used as the official residence of the Czech President was confiscated from German owners after the Second World War. The organisation says it is horrified by the fact that President Vaclav Klaus has moved into a house which in their words is "German property". The villa in Prague 6 belonged to the Lippert family, the owners of a famous delicatessen shop in the centre of Prague. During the German occupation, the Lipperts supported the Nazis. After the war, the family was expelled from Czechoslovakia and their property confiscated. The villa now belongs to the Defence Ministry which offered it to President Klaus to use it as his official residence.
Police say they've arrested one of the two men who brutally attacked a Czech journalist in January. Tomas Nemecek, editor-in-chief of the leading investigative weekly Respekt, was attacked by two assailants outside his home on January 17. He was taken to hospital but has now fully recovered. Police are investigating whether the attack was a random assault or meant as a warning. The other assailant remains at large.
Friday should be partly cloudy with occasional rain and daytime temperatures ranging from 6 to 12 degrees Celsius.
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