The Czech Finance Ministry has transferred 10.5 billion crowns owed by the Czech Republic to Bermuda-based company CME, to a special account in Sweden, Finance Ministry spokesman Jaroslav Dedic revealed on Friday. The move comes as a step in preventing debt interest from rising - it had been growing by two million crowns a day. The Czech Republic is required to pay the sum to the CME company after an arbitration court had ruled the country failed to protect its investment in the Czech commercial station TV Nova. The Swedish bank will pay out the amount only if a Swedish appeals court confirms the earlier ruling. That decision should be known by May 15th. A failure to confirm the arbitration ruling would see the return of the funds to the Czech Republic.
The Czech anti-chemical unit based in Kuwait as part of operation 'Enduring Freedom' will see a rotation of military personnel at the end of June at the latest, an army representative told journalists on Friday. The current contingent, which is 400 members strong, has a number of members who have been stationed in Kuwait since last September, some of whom had already been expected to return home. Deputy Defence Minister Jan Vana revealed on Friday that the manner of rotating personnel, however, would not be up to Czech officials alone, but also up to the US, aware the Czech contingent has a mandate to serve in the Gulf until the end of 2003. Besides being able to provide decontamination expertise, the Czech Republic has also indicated it could provide additional experts to help locate possible weapons of mass destruction.
The first fully professional chemical base has been launched in the Czech Republic, coming under the command of lieutenant colonel Jiri Gajdos, the deputy commander of the anti-chemical unit currently serving in Kuwait. The new base will be led by logistics commander Miroslav Beran until Mr Gajdos' return from the Gulf. The establishment of a new base for chemical troops, phases out the 9th chemical defence company, the sole fully professional unit to date, and the 11th chemical defence battalion. The new unit was created to provide enough professional soldiers for operation 'Enduring Freedom'. The unit counts 520 professional soldiers, 200 of whom currently form part of the Czech and Slovak contingents in Kuwait.
Czech president Vaclav Klaus met with former president and 'Solidarity' leader Lech Walesa in Gdansk, Poland, on Friday, with Mr Walesa greeting Mr Klaus as one of the last "warriors" of post-Communist central Europe, Mr Klaus told journalists afterwards. The Czech president, is completing a two-day visit to Poland; on Thursday he met with current President Aleksander Kwasniewski and parliament leaders in Warsaw, discussing the current war on Iraq and upcoming referendums on membership to the European Union.
Four people were killed and seven others were injured, three of them seriously, when a bus and train collided on Friday morning in the city of Hradec Kralove. According to the police, the bus driver tried to make it through a railway crossing even though a warning-light had come on. The bus was hit by the train and dragged for a distance, causing the train to derail. The bus driver and three passengers died instantly.
Police have detained two men suspected of planting an explosive device in a phone booth in the eastern city of Olomouc on Thursday. No one was injured in the blast which demolished the phone booth and shattered the windows of several nearby houses. The two men, aged 22 and 28, have been charged with illegal possession of arms and face up to six years in prison.
Police have charged three Czechs for the murder of German national Erich Kunder, found dead near Cheb last year, three months after he disappeared while visiting western Bohemia. Police first suspected Russian gang involvement, but evidence eventually led them to the three current suspects, now remanded in custody. Police believe that the 51-year-old Kunder was lured to the home of one of the suspects, who is a prostitute, to be killed by her male accomplices. The trio then reportedly withdrew over 5,000 euros from the victim's account, and smuggled his luxury car to Belarus. If found guilty in the case the suspects could face between twelve to fifteen years in prison.
Saturday is expected to be cloudy with a chance of showers, with daytime temperatures reaching highs of only 8 degrees Celsius.
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