Interior Minister Ivan Langer said on Monday he had succeeded in bringing down the number of police wire-tapping by 30 percent in 2007 as compared to the previous year. He said this was the result of strict supervision and a new work methodology. As an opposition politician Mr. Langer frequently criticized what he called an excessive use of wire-tapping under the Social Democrat government and promised to amend the situation when he took office. The situation was worst in 2004 when the police registered over 10,000 cases. In 2006 they were down to 7,600 and last year they dropped to 5, 548.
Petr Zelenka, a former male nurse, who is charged with seven murders and ten attempted murders, has admitted to killing patients in hospital in order to “see some action”. Zelenka admitted to having injected patients on his ward with heparin – a blood thinning-drug – that kills if administered in excess. The hospital management eventually linked the series of deaths on the ward to the shifts of one of the male nurses. When the story broke several months ago, the public was shocked by how many murders Zelenka had got away with before being detected. He could face anything between 15 years and a life sentence.
The Czech Republic will send a 200-strong reconstruction team to Afghanistan in March of this year. The Czechs are expected to follow up US development projects in the Afghan province of Logar and the three-year operation will involve projects in agriculture, construction and water management. Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said on Monday the operation would involve certain security risks. It will not be easy – they will have to cope with mines as well as be able to occasionally deliver a baby, he told journalists.
The former president Václav Havel who was hospitalized with a heart problem over the weekend is reported to be feeling better. Mr. Havel was hospitalized with heart arrhythmia on Saturday night but is now said to be out of danger. He will remain in hospital for another day or two for monitoring. His private secretary Jakub Hladík said Mr. Havel had had a busy schedule in recent weeks and needed to get some rest. The media have not been told which hospital he is in, but Vaclav Havel sent them a message saying he was feeling much better and hoped to attend the premiere of a new documentary about his life and work called Citizen Havel.
Czech experts in child care have urged the creation of an effective system to trace missing and abducted children. Prague is currently hosting a meeting of the European Federation for Missing and Sexually Exploited Children and the head of the Our Child Foundation Zuzana Baudyšova said Prague should use the opportunity to put some of its conclusions into practice. She has called for a national network of missing child centers which would cooperate closely with the media in order to alert the public about missing and abducted children as soon as possible. Timely action, she said, could save lives.
Documents in Slovakia’s National Memory Institute suggest that incumbent president Václav Klaus was closely monitored by the communist secret police in the years leading up to the fall of communism in 1989. The communist secret police repeatedly searched his office, bugged his calls at work and at home, read his mail and even shadowed his wife Lívia. Thanks to Slovakia’s National Memory Institute Czech historians have now discovered the existence of a second file on Václav Klaus code-named Warrior. The file was shredded three weeks after the fall of the communist regime but there are references to it in existing Slovak documents.
The Czech stock market fell sharply Monday, losing almost five percent in a sell-off sparked by fears the US economy will fall into recession, dealers said. By mid-afternoon, Prague's Stock Exchange's main index was down by almost 5.0 percent as a wave of selling swept over nearly all shares. The PX index hit a low of 1,485.5, down 4.88 percent on the day, before recovering slightly.
Czech vehicle production rose by 9.94 percent in 2007 on a 12-month comparison to a record 943,117 units, the country's auto industry association said on Monday. Association president Martin Jahn said that in spite of stagnant demand in Western Europe and a significant fall on the German auto market, producers and suppliers in the Czech Republic had been able to attain record results. Car production rose 9.66 percent with 932,016 units produced, mainly by Volkswagen Group member Skoda Auto and the Toyota, Peugeot-Citroen joint venture TPCA Czech.
Two young Czechs are believed to have drowned in the river Ohře over the weekend after falling out of a raft. The weekend rafting expedition turned nasty when the group attempted to pass through a weir and got caught in a water eddy. Three of the four youths fell out of the raft and were swept down-river by a strong current. One youth managed to make it safely to shore but the other two are still missing, presumed drowned.
Two Czech soldiers were injured in a dawn missile attack on their base in southern Iraq, the Czech Defence Ministry announced in Prague on Sunday. According to the ministry’s spokesperson a missile hit the car park inside the base and the two soldiers suffered leg and hand injuries in the shockwave from the blast. The base, situated near the southern city of Basra also houses British troops and is frequently the target of missile attacks. The two injured soldiers will be able to continue their mission in Iraq.