The Czech cabinet has terminated a 125 billion Czech crown (4.3 billion US dollar) contract to complete an 80-kilometre stretch of motorway in North Moravia. The contract was awarded to the Israeli Housing & Construction company without a tender before the general elections in June 2002 and the new government found the deal too costly. According to Transport Minister Milan Simonovsky, the government would save 40 billion crowns and the motorway would be completed one year earlier, under a new plan. During its session on Monday, the cabinet agreed to finance the construction through a combination of bond issues and a loan from the European Investment Bank.
The Czech government will hold a special session on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the deployment of a Czech field hospital to Iraq. According to Defence Minister Jaroslav Tvrdik, the hospital is to help facilitate the humanitarian aid programme in southern Iraq, around the town of Basra. It is expected to be ready for deployment on April 5. A six month operation has been estimated to cost the state some 474 million Czech crowns, or a little over 16 million US dollars. A portion of the expenses is to be covered by the United States and Great Britain. However, Interior Minister Stanislav Gross said on Monday that the government needs to solve the problem of taking part in humanitarian operations in Iraq, without being a part of the US and British-led coalition that is currently at war with the middle eastern state.
On Sunday delegates at the Social Democratic Party's convention passed a resolution condemning the current US-led war on Iraq. The passing of the resolution followed heated discussion on the war, as well as an incident when the crowd whistled loudly against one speaker who showed support for the US-led war. The resolution criticised the US actions, saying that the conflict could have been avoided, stressing that without a UN mandate the attack went against international law. Interestingly, the Social Democrat resolution changes nothing on the official government stance, which has shown support for the US by sending the Czechs' elite anti-chemical unit to Kuwait.
Police in North Moravia launched a criminal investigation on Monday into a cave-in at the Doubrava coal mine. The accident occurred 800 metres under the ground on Sunday night. Two miners, aged 34 and 43, died instantly, while another 34 year-old miner had to be flown to a hospital in the nearby city of Ostrava. A spokesman for the company in charge of the mine has said the cave-in followed a subterranean earth tremor with a measured intensity of 5.5 million joules. However, according to a spokeswoman for the regional police, the incident was serious enough to trigger a criminal probe and a government mining board investigation.
The Czech government has approved an important European Union treaty defining the conditions for the Czech Republic's accession to the EU, scheduled for May next year. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla is expected to officially sign the treaty, which sets the same conditions for all the ten candidate countries, at an EU summit in Athens in mid-April.
Two doctors from the East Bohemian town of Dvur Kralove have been found guilty of causing bodily harm through negligence by a district court in Trutnov. In 1999, the doctors failed to admit a 41-year old mentally ill man with intestine problems to hospital, resulting in the patient's death. They received a one year suspended sentence with two years probation.
Finally, a quick look at the weather. Tuesday will be the last day with that pleasant spring weather we have been experiencing. Temperatures are forecast between 11 and 15 degrees Celsius. As of Wednesday, temperatures are expected to drop and there will be scattered showers throughout the country.
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