Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka on Friday awarded overseas service medals to 97 military police officers who had been deployed in Iraq as well soldiers returning from the territory of the former Yugoslavia, who had served with the U.N. peacekeeping force SFOR. Five of those who served were also awarded the Cross of Merit. The military police contingent was deployed in southern Iraq from April to June this year. They trained over 2,000 Iraqi police officers and police instructors. The Czech military contingent served mainly in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
The Czech's EU Commissioner, Pavel Telicka, first learned that he may be replaced in Brussels by outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla from a friend. Mr Telicka told the CTK news agency that he only received official news of that possibility on Friday, after a public news conference. The post of EU commissioner was first offered to Mr Spidla by the acting head of the Social Democrats and Prime Minister-designate, Stanislav Gross, who is now putting together a new cabinet. The Christian Democrat party, which will be part of the new government coalition, has pushed for Mr Telicka's replacement due to his past membership in the Communist party.
Czech mezzo soprano Magdalena Kozena, one of Europe's most sought-after classical vocalists, has left her husband, French baritone Vincent Le Texier, and will move from Paris to Berlin to live with her lover, Sir Simon Rattle. After numerous reports about their relationship appeared in the tabloid press, a spokesman for the couple confirmed for the German paper Bild that the two artists were together and said the pair's spouses were aware of the situation, but would not comment further. Sir Simon, currently the artistic director of the Berlin Philharmonic, is considered to be Britain's foremost conductor.
Another suspected case of BSE, or mad cow disease, has been reported in Podhorni Ujezd, near Jicin, East Bohemia. The animal suspected of suffering from the condition is a five-year-old cow. The State Veterinary Authority said further tests would be carried out. If confirmed, it would be the Czech Republic's thirteenth case of the disease since 2001. Some 143 head of cattle, either offspring of the cow or animals born in the same year will have to be killed as a preventative measure.
The outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has been offered the post of European Commissioner, according to reports published in the Czech press on Thursday. According to the dailies Mlada fronta Dnes and Lidove noviny, Mr Spidla could replace current commissioner Pavel Telicka, whom the Christian Democrats, one of three government coalition parties, want to remove. The dailies say the post was offered to Mr Spidla by the acting head of the Social Democrats, Stanislav Gross, who is now responsible for putting together a new cabinet. The outgoing Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla has refused to comment on the matter, saying the priority now is to form a new government.
The Czech Republic has managed to achieve public hygiene standards equal to those of the European Union in just two years, according to the country's chief public health officer Michal Vit. In two years, we have done what the Netherlands did in seven, Mr. Vit told journalists in Prague on Wednesday. The process involved the approval of new legislation and new regulations introduced at shops, eateries and catering services across the country. It also entailed better consumer protection and the introduction of a central information system for nutrition hygiene, drinking water safety and infectious diseases, among other things.
A ten year old boy has had to undergo surgery after being badly mauled by a Shepard dog. The child was rushed to hospital with severe face injuries after the dog, which belonged to his grandmother attacked him in the family home. It is not clear what led to the attack, but family members say it is possible that the boy touched the dog's injured eye, provoking the onslaught. The dog, which the boy had known all his life and grown up with, is now under observation but is showing no signs of aggression.
The government on Wednesday also rejected a Senate bill that would introduce tuition fees at Czech state universities. The bill would transform universities into incorporated companies that provide education and applied research. They would also be freed of paying revenue taxes. The bill was drafted and approved by the Senate in response to growing dissatisfaction on the part of teachers and students regarding poor financing of universities. The strongest party in government, the Social Democrats, is strictly against the idea of tuition fees on the grounds that they would limit access to higher education for socially weaker students. The bill will now go to the Lower House.
A judge who was to decide whether to re-open the case against the country's most notorious criminal Jiri Kajinek has postponed the hearing until September, because a key witness failed to show up. Kajinek is serving a life sentence for two murders, which he claims not to have committed. His lawyer now says she has fresh evidence which should help clear Kajinek of both crimes. The new evidence allegedly points to the fact that Kajinek may have been framed.