Tuesday was also a holiday in the Czech Republic, in honour of SS Cyril and Methodius, who brought Christianity to the Czech Lands in the 9th century. While many people enjoyed the day off, it was a black one on the country's roads, with 11 people dying in accidents, the highest number for a single day so for this year. The authorities said the number of collisions may have been due to motorists being tired after driving long distances on the state holiday.
It is a state holiday in the Czech Republic, in honour of the Czech
religious reformer Jan Hus (John Huss), who died on July 6, 1415. Services
dedicated to him have been held in Hussite, Czech Evangelical and other
Protestant churches around the country, on this the 590th anniversary of
Born in south Bohemia, he studied in Prague before being made parish priest at the city's Bethlehem chapel. He was strongly influenced by the English reformer John Wycliffe, whose writings he translated into Czech. When Wycliffe's teachings were banned by the Church, Hus protested from the pulpit; he was declared a heretic and excommunicated, before being burnt at the stake.
In 1999 the late Pope John Paul II expressed regret for Hus's killing, though he was not rehabilitated.
A service was held at Bethlehem chapel in honour of Jan Hus on Wednesday, attended by the prime minister, Jiri Paroubek. President Vaclav Klaus, meanwhile, was among the congregation at a service in Husinec, south Bohemia, where the reformer was born around 1370.
The large statue of Hus on Prague's Old Town Square is to be lit up at night from today on.
It is a national holiday in the Czech Republic, where Roman Catholics have
been remembering Saints Cyril and Methodius, Greek brothers who brought
Christianity to the Czech Lands when they arrived in Moravia in 863. They
also created the Cyrillic alphabet and translated the Gospels and
liturgical books into Slavonic, which at that time had no written form;
the two are considered the founders of Slavic literature.
The Cyril and Methodius tradition was also an important element of the 19th century Czech national revival.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek said after lunch with former president Vaclav Havel on Tuesday that the two men had very similar views on the European Union, and were in favour of the ratification of the EU's controversial first constitution. Mr Havel's support for the EU constitution is in contrast with the position of his successor Vaclav Klaus, who is strongly opposed to its adoption.
The biggest event commemorating Cyril and Methodius on Tuesday was the
traditional pilgrimage to Velehrad in south Moravia, where the
missionaries were based. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk conducted a special
service there which was attended by around 30,000 people, including
President Vaclav Klaus. Mr Klaus described Velehrad as an important
place in Czech history and a living memorial.
Wednesday will also be a state holiday in the Czech Republic, the anniversary of the death of religious reformer Jan Hus.
Bohumil Kulinsky says he is extremely unlikely to remain as director of the Bambini di Praga girls choir, whether or not he is found guilty of sexually abusing several members over a 16-year period. Mr Kulinsky is accused of having had sex with three of the choir and abusing 49 girls. He made the statement in a radio interview on Monday, a few days after being released from custody.
Two helicopters, the Croatian coastguard, as well as a number of
volunteers have been searching for a Czech tourist who went missing on
Sunday off the Croatian coast, near the island of Brac. The young
tourist was reportedly swimming with an inflatable mattress when he was
pushed out into the Adriatic by 100 kilometre winds. So far authorities
have searched an area of approximately sixteen square kilometres but
have been unable to find any sign of the swimmer.
The incident is similar to other developments on Sunday when, for example, a group of four Czech tourists was also swept out on an inflatable mattress and raft - but was rescued.
A new detention centre for young offenders - the first of its kind in the Czech Republic - has seen the arrival of its first wards - two teenage boys, both guilty of murder. One of the boys, just 13, killed an elderly women, the other a young girl. Both of the interned will undergo psychiatric tests and extensive counselling, receiving special education, and allowed occasional visits. Authorities hope to be able to rehabilitate underage criminals by age 18. The new detention centre, specifically designed for young offenders, can intern up to 12 youths at one time. The centre is said to have been designed to appear less threatening than a prison, with for example, unbreakable glass windows instead of bars. At the same time, cameras monitor almost all areas: the exception being personal rooms and washroom areas.
President Vaclav Klaus signed into a bill on Monday giving the Lower House of Parliament greater freedom to check cases of police wire-tapping, or bugging. Until now the Lower House's commission monitoring police wiretapping required a 'go ahead' from the Interior Minister. Under the legislation the commission will be allowed to check the details of any wiretapping case, whether ordered by the courts or by state attorneys.