The Czech Republic’s budget deficit stood at just under CZK 170 billion (around USD 9.9 billion) to the end of November, the worst result in the country’s history. The latest figures were posted on the finance ministry’s website on Tuesday. The record shortfall has been blamed on the economic recession, a fall in tax revenues and a rise in expenditures. The approved deficit for the whole of 2009 is just CZK 52.2 billion.
A Prague police officer has been arrested on suspicion of involvement in fraud amounting to CZK 100 million (USD 5.8 million). Another man has also been taken into custody on charges of having the officer conduct checks on the owners of property he was interested in buying. The policeman is also accused of forging an ID card and power of attorney document in order to help his accomplice sell valuable properties that belonged to other people. Both men are being held on remand, a police spokesperson said on Tuesday.
The number of cases of swine flu in the Czech Republic is estimated by hygiene officials and doctors to be around 100,000. That figure has been calculated on the basis of the number of cases detected to date, the Czech News Agency reported. Swine flu epidemics have been declared in around one third of the country’s districts. Meanwhile, the number of confirmed swine flu deaths in the Czech Republic has risen to 11. The latest victims were a 39-year-old Prague man with heart disease and a 29-year-old man in Mělník. A 30-year-old man who died in Jičín on Monday is also suspected of having had the H1N1 virus.
A two-year-old Romany girl who suffered burns on 80 percent of her body during a racist attack on her family’s home in north Moravia is being released from hospital after an eight-month stay on Wednesday. Natálka will need to be brought to hospital twice a week as an out patient, her mother Anna Siváková said on Tuesday. Her parents will have to apply appointment to the child’s wounds three times a day and she will require further operations in future. Four far-right extremists have been charged in connection with the fire-bomb attack on the family’s home in Vítkov in April.
The Czech interior minister, Martin Pecina, says legal migrants who arrive in the European Union should not immediately have the same rights as EU citizens. That is a provision included in the Stockholm Program, which sets forth the EU’s justice and migration policy for the period from 2010 to 2014. Speaking at a meeting of interior ministers in Brussels, Mr Pecina said granting migrants equal rights could resemble the system in Canada, which Prague has criticised as too benevolent. He said a similar system in the EU could encourage economic migration to Europe. Ottawa re-introduced visa requirements for Czechs in July, after a large rise in the number of Czech Romanies applying for asylum in Canada.
Three gynecologists have been given suspended sentences for causing the death of a patient through neglect. A court in Sokolov, west Bohemia ruled that the three were to blame for the death of a 57-year-old patient when a laparoscopy resulted in damage to the women’s intestines. Due to insufficient treatment, she later died of blood poisoning. All three doctors have also had their medical licenses suspended for two-year periods.
Three men have been give jail terms after using violence to force another man to reveal the PIN number on his bank card, the news website deník.cz reported. A court in Hradec Kralové on Tuesday sentenced two of the perpetrators to seven years in prison and the third to five years. The three lured a 54-year-old man to a flat in the city in May, knowing he had just sold property and would have a lot of money in his account. They first tried to drug their victim, before later stealing his card and using violence to make him to give up the PIN number.
Florida Panthers’ Czech goaltender Tomáš Vokoun was taken off the ice on a stretcher during an NHL game against Atlanta Thrashers on Monday, after accidentally being hit in the head by the stick of team-mate Keith Ballard. Ballard had evidently meant to hit the goal in frustration after Florida conceded, but missed and hit Vokoun instead. The goalie sustained a cut to his ear but was alert when he was taken to hospital, according to a spokesperson for the club.
Some 44 percent of Czechs say they are proud of their nationality, suggests a survey conducted by the CVVM agency in November. In a similar poll in 2005, 57 percent of respondents said they took pride in being Czech. Last month’s survey found that 41 percent were neither proud nor ashamed of their nationality, 10 percent were ashamed and five percent did not know.
The Czech counter-intelligence service has confirmed that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein planned a terrorist attack on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty at a time when the broadcaster was located in the centre of Prague, at the former Federal Assembly building near the top of Wenceslas Square. The news website tn.cz, which broke the story on Sunday, said the roots of the plan dated back to 1999: Mr Hussein allegedly wanted the attack carried out to silence broadcasts to Iraq by the US-funded RFE. The attack, BIS has confirmed, was to have been conducted by terrorists making use of an RPG 7 anti-tank weapon fired from a nearby building. The counter-intelligence service thwarted the move through an agent within the Iraqi embassy. Saddam Hussein’s regime was overthrown in 2003 after Iraq was invaded by US-led troops. In April of the same year weapons - that had been smuggled into the Iraqi embassy in Prague for use in the planned attack - were handed over to the Czech authorities.
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