The lower house of parliament, on Tuesday, decided to discuss a government proposal to send a Czech field hospital to Iraq next week on April 17. The cabinet hopes to deploy the hospital in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 1472, which calls on the international community to provide the Iraqi population with immediate humanitarian aid. The Czech senate also plans to discuss the issue on April 17. Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has written a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, to seek his opinion. The Defence Ministry has said the 7th field hospital was ready for deployment and could leave for the Middle East as early as April 18.
Police are investigating the disappearance of the chairman of the board of directors of the Union Group, which controls some 75% of the troubled small lender Union Banka. Giuseppe Roselli and his bodyguard were last seen at the Czech bank on Monday night and police are not ruling out the possibility of them having been kidnapped. The disappearance resulted in the cancellation of a general meeting that was to be held on Tuesday to discuss the bank's future. Union Banka closed branches and ceased transactions due to liquidity problems on February 21.The Czech National Bank decided to withdraw its banking licence earlier last month.
Police are looking for a man who has robbed a bank and shot dead a security guard in the process. According to a spokesperson, the man robbed the CSOB bank in Prague's Dejvice district on Tuesday afternoon. Reports of another security guard having been fired at and injured have not been confirmed. It is yet unclear how much money was stolen.
Psychologists around the country have condemned recent cases of self-immolation, warning that they can dangerously influence Czech citizens suffering from depressing. The latest case occurred on Monday night when a 43-year-old man burned himself to death outside a church in a village near the south Bohemian town of Pelhrimov. The man poured a litre of petrol over himself before setting himself alight with a cigarette lighter. He had died by the time firemen arrived at the scene. In just over a month six people have set themselves on fire in the Czech Republic, with four dying and two suffering severe burns. Last week President Vaclav Klaus made an appeal against self-immolation, saying such radical behaviour was unnecessary in a democracy.
Should the current law on public tenders stay in effect when the Czech Republic joins the European Union, the country will not get a single cent from the EU to be used in Czech projects. Speaking to journalists in Prague on Tuesday, the head of the EC delegation's investment section, Ruud van Enk warned that the EU would stand behind foreign investors and stated that current Czech law makes it difficult for foreign companies to take part in public tenders. According a spokesman for the Ministry for Regional Development, a proposal to a new law has already been made and will most probably be passed by parliament to come into effect on January 1 2004.
Police say they have detained a group of refugees from China who crossed the Czech-Slovak border into the Czech Republic illegally. The 26 Chinese nationals were smuggled into the country aboard a truck driven by a 30-year old man. While the driver has been arrested, police are still looking for his accomplices. Charged with the illegal crossing of a national border, he can face up to two years in prison if found guilty.
Wednesday has been forecast with overcast skies, scattered showers and some light snow throughout the country. Temperatures will reach a maximum of 5 degrees Celsius.
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