A Prague court has sentenced two men to seven and eight years in prison for threatening to poison meals in hospitals and company canteens earlier this year. Thirty-year-old Patrik Jirsa and thirty-one-year old Petr Hirjak threatened this spring that they would poison hospital meals with cyanide unless the state handed over 300 million crowns. Aside from the jail sentences, both men will also be required to pay compensation for damages caused to the Health Ministry and the individual hospitals. The two will have to pay 325,000 crowns to the ministry, 32,000 crowns to the Motol Teaching Hospital, and 82,000 crowns to the General Teaching Hospital.
In related news police arrested yet another blackmailer this week, threatening to blow-up a hospital in the region of Moravia-Silesia unless he received 10 million crowns. The extortionist warned he had loaded an old ambulance car with 500 kilograms of explosives that he would drive into one of the region's hospital complexes; he made his demands while placing a call to a police hotline. If found guilty of placing the threat the suspect, who is 38, could face up to 12 years in prison.
Four people, including a 54-year-old Czech bus driver, were killed on Friday, when their bus travelling from Slovakia to the Czech Republic collided with a lorry trailer. The trailer, containing construction material, had come loose and spun into the bus head-on. Many others on board were also injured in the crash, which took place near the Slovak town of Ruzomberok. Police are still trying to identify all of the deceased: it is unclear whether the other three people killed in the accident were Czech or Slovak nationals.
The Czech Senate has decided that Alexandr Novak, a senator for the opposition Civic Democrats, suspected of abuse of public office and bribe taking, can stand for prosecution. Until now the senator has dismissed allegations he accepted a bribe of at least 41 million crowns for mediation of the sale of shares of energy and gas companies owned by the north Bohemian town of Chomutov, while he was town mayor. The politician has said the accusation was a set-up, masterminded by former Social Democrat and Chomutov deputy mayor Jaroslav Riha, who lost his post after Mr Novak became mayor of the town.
CSKA Moscow midfielder Jiri Jarosik was recalled on Thursday to the Czech national squad for a soccer friendly against Canada in Teplice on November 15. Jarosik has not played for the team since he moved to the Russian champions in January. Czech coach Karel Brueckner said he might tinker with some positions with the line-up that helped the Czechs qualify for Euro 2004, with the exception of his defence. Brueckner, unbeaten in 18 matches since taking over in December 2001, will leave the quartet of Martin Jiranek, Rene Bolf, Tomas Ujfalusi and Marek Jankulovski to start, to allow the four more time to get used to each other's styles.
Saturday is expected to be cloudy with some sunny intervals. The maximum daytime temperature is expected to be 9 degrees Celsius.
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