The Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has left for a one-day trip to the Iraqi city of Basra to visit the Czech military police unit stationed there. Minister Kostelka is accompanied by the chief of staff Pavel Stefka. A one-hundred strong Czech police unit is operating in Basra in southern Iraq, training the local police force and instructors. As of July this year, six Czech military medical personnel are expected to start working in Basra at the request of the British troops. The trip is Minister Kostelka's first visit to Basra since last autumn.
Czechs are expected to import cars worth almost 69 billion crowns, or 2.3 billion euros, in 2004 - by some 3 billion crowns more than last year. According to the Automobile Industry Association, the overall worth of both new and used imported cars of all categories has been rising by five to six billion crowns annually in the last few years. In 2003 over 286,000 cars were imported into the Czech Republic. Around 231,000 were passenger cars, two thirds of them used.
The Bavarian Prime Minister Edmund Stoiber has again called for the abolition of the so-called Benes decrees, a piece of legislation which sanctioned the expulsion of ethnic Germans from Czechoslovakia after the Second World War. Speaking at the annual Sudeten German Days in Nuremberg on Sunday, Mr Stoiber said the Benes decrees were an injustice which had no place in the European Union. In his address the Bavarian Prime Minister said that if the Czech Republic does not condemn the post-war expulsion of Germans he will not pay an official visit to the country. He added that discussion on the topic must not stop after the Czech Republic's accession to the European Union.
The number of children with type 1 diabetes is growing in the Czech Republic. According to experts there are currently 2,500 children and young people under the age of 18 suffering from the condition. Their number increases every year by seven percent and the percentage is even higher in children under six. The situation is similar in other European countries, for example Hungary, Austria, Poland, Belgium and Portugal. Type 1 diabetes patients must depend on lifelong insulin injections. In total, there are about 47,000 people with type 1 diabetes in the Czech Republic.
The eight men and two women who were arrested by a rapid deployment police unit in North Bohemia on Friday morning on suspicion of procurement have been taken into custody. The gang members have been charged with procurement, trafficking in people and criminal conspiracy for which they face up to ten years in prison if convicted. Among the suspects are Czech nationals as well as people from the former Yugoslavia and former Soviet Union. The Friday morning raid was carried out in three hotels, restaurants and flats in the Teplice district in North Bohemia.
The former Czechoslovak communist foreign minister Bohuslav Chnoupek, has died in Prague after a short illness at the age of 78. Apart from his political and diplomatic career, Mr Chnoupek also wrote many journalist reports, political publications and books. Bohuslav Chnoupek was born in 1925 in the Slovak capital Bratislava. He joined the Communist party in 1945. In 1969 to 1970 he was general director of Czechoslovak Radio where he implemented the first wave of the normalisation purges. Those followed the suppression of the Prague Spring reform movement by Warsaw Pact troops which occupied Czechoslovakia in August, 1968. In 1990, Mr Chnoupek was expelled from the Czechoslovak Communist Party and in the same year he was accused of abuse of power and spent six months in custody.
About 100 Palestinians and members of the Communist Youth Association gathered in Prague on Friday evening to protest against Israel's policies in the Gaza Strip and the Rafah refugee camp. The demonstrators highlighted the May invasion of Gaza by the Israeli army which claimed 44 victims. The Palestinian protesters brought along many flags and banners. They showed photos of dead Palestinians and destroyed houses. No incident was reported during the protest which was watched by some 15 police.
The Supreme Court earlier this week rejected the appeal of another former top Communist and confirmed a four year prison sentence for the former Czechoslovak head of telecommunications Karel Hoffmann. The Supreme Court upheld his conviction of sabotage during the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia. A lower court had sentenced Mr Hoffmann for four years last June for ordering state radio to stop broadcasting during the violent crushing of the Prague Spring reform movement. The 79-year old Mr Hoffmann appealed on health grounds but lost. Mr Hoffmann is the first, and possibly last, top politician of former communist Czechoslovakia to be sentenced for actions connected to the Soviet-led invasion.
Dozens of Czech rapid response police moved in against an eight-member prostitution gang near Teplice, north Bohemia, in the early hours of Friday morning, The carefully co-ordinated round-up saw police move in at three hotels, a restaurant, and several private flats in the area. Arrested were nationals from the Czech Republic, the former Yugoslavia as well as Russia. The gang, suspected off making millions of crowns in illegal prostitution, has also been charged with the trafficking of women and criminal conspiracy. A guilty sentence for any of the gang-members would mean up to 10 years in prison.
The Czech military's General Staff has announced that as off Monday specialists from the Czech anti-chemical unit will begin training Greek soldiers in preparation for this summer's Olympic Games. The games, which kick-off in Athens in August, are expected to be the most highly-guarded in the venue's history, to help ward off potential terrorist threats; included is the need for special medical and anti-chemical training. Twenty-four from a total of forty-eight Greek specialists arrive in Czech Republic Monday, and will begin training at the Czech Military Protection Centre in Vyskov, south Moravia. Operations will include working directly with toxic materials, exercises aimed at preparing specialists for the psychological stress in potentially "high-risk" situations. Earlier this month, it was expected the Czechs themselves would take part in guarding of the Olympic Games, but Greece opted instead for training its soldiers here, a solution deemed less expensive in overall costs.