The programming director of the commercial TV station Nova, Libuse Smuclerova, has resigned from her post in what is the first major personnel change at Nova after it was taken over again by the US company Central European Media Enterprises (CME). Ms Smuclerova declined to comment on the reason for her departure. She announced her decision at the company's Christmas party on Thursday. Ms Smuclerova was the right hand of former TV Nova CEO Vladimir Zelezny. She started working for TV Nova in 1993 and served as programming director since 1997.
The number of plaintiffs in the case against Bohumil Kulinsky, the director of the prestigious Bambini di Praga girls choir accused of sexual abuse, is growing. Kulinsky is accused of sexually abusing underage girls in the choir, something that allegedly went on for many years, and the police say that there have been over 100 complaints made against him so far. The police are questioning hundreds of girls, including those who left the choir years ago. One of the girls said Kulinsky has sex with her when she was only twelve. Kulinsky, who has been in detention for three weeks now, denies the charges. The Bambini di Praga girls choir is made up of girls aged 12 to 19. It performs with leading Czech and international orchestras and gives performances abroad several times a year.
The police have retrieved a valuable Alfons Mucha painting that was stolen from a Slovak spa resort in 2002. The police found the painting in the possession of two men who were trying to sell it to Austrians in a Brno shopping centre for 95,000 Euros. They face prison sentences of up to five years for harbouring stolen property. Experts who examined the work of art said it was badly damaged.
The Czech prime minister, Stanislav Gross, has come down with a fever and is unable to attend a European Union summit in Brussels, at which a decision is to be made on whether to allow Turkey to begin accession talks. Deputy Prime Minister for the Economy Martin Jahn is attending the conference instead of Mr Gross. But a spokesperson said it was possible the prime minister would be well enough to go to Brussels on Friday.
A bill to introduce special punishment for the owners of dogs that attack people has been rejected by the lower house. Under the bill, owners could face up to ten years in prison if their dog killed somebody. There have been several cases of dogs killing and causing serious injury in the Czech Republic in recent years.
The Czech Republic's biggest football club, Sparta Prague, have sacked manager Frantisek Straka, after Sparta did very poorly in European club competition the Champions League. Straka is being replaced by Jaroslav Hrebik, who led the club in the 2001-2002 season but was dismissed before the end of the season.
Representatives of a number of human rights organizations working in the Czech Republic have said that the country continues to export arms to countries with bad human rights record. As examples they stated Columbia, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Georgia. The deputy Foreign Minister Jan Winkler said that the possibility of potential misuse of arms is always considered before granting an export licence to a company. According to Mr Winkler intelligence services are involved in the screening of both the export companies and the buyers.
A Czech appeal court has overturned the earlier acquittal of a Russian rock musician charged with spreading racism and possessing neo-Nazi propaganda. Denis Gerasimov of the skinhead group Kolovrat was arrested at Prague airport in February as he was leaving the Czech Republic. In October a Prague district court freed the singer, saying his clothes and CDs could not spread racism or neo-Nazism because they were shut in a suitcase.
The Czech Republic has once again been fined by the European Court of Human Rights over the slowness of its courts, Hospodarske noviny reported on Wednesday. The Becvar family took the state to the Strasbourg court after a case they took in a property dispute lasted for almost six years. The Czech Republic has now lost over 35 such cases, and won only one, said the daily.
The 2005 budget has been approved. All 101 coalition MPs were present for Wednesday's vote, ensuring it was passed by the 200-seat lower house. The budget envisages a deficit of over 80 billion Czech crowns (2,700 million euros). It now has to be signed by the president. The Civic Democrats criticized the budget, saying it would not foster growth and meant the country was living in ever more debt.