Czech president Václav Klaus has met with the Dutch Queen Beatrix during his one-day visit to Holland. They discussed bilateral relations and EU related issues. The president is also scheduled to attend the presentation of the Dutch translation of his book Blue, not Green Planet. He will meet with the Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende before returning to Prague.
Czech Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil wants to investigate claims of political pressure allegedly exerted on the state attorney and the courts in the case of Qatari prince Hamid bin Abdal Sani who was charged with sexually abusing underage girls back in 2005. A Prague district court sentenced Prince Sani, a member of the Qatar royal family, to 2.5 years in prison. He appealed the verdict and was extradited to his homeland shortly after on the intervention of then-justice minister Pavel Nemec who said he’s received guarantees that the prince would be prosecuted in Qatar. The Qatari Prosecutor General halted his prosecution in January. Marie Benešová, who was the supreme state attorney at the time, said people from the Justice Ministry have exerted pressure on her in connection with the case.
The Czech Republic will extradite four Danish nationals who are believed to have robbed a bank in Aarhus, Denmark, back to their country, the City Court in Prague decided last week. The four suspects have been in custody since the Czech police detained them in mid-March. The men are said to have escaped with 27 million Danish crowns late last year. They will be transported to Denmark on Wednesday by the Danish police.
Police have completed investigation into the biggest pile-up in the country’s history. A total of 231 vehicles crashed on a major Czech motorway connecting Prague and Brno on 20 March in bad weather. Three people suffered serious injuries in the accident and another 27 were treated for light injuries. Some 20, 000 people got stuck in the traffic jam and a 40 km stretch of the road had to be closed down. The police concluded that the accident was caused by speeding. Overall damages come up to 28 million crowns.
The cabinet on Monday approved a proposal to build a small dam on the river Opava in North Bohemia. The artificial lake is designed to prevent the nearby towns of Krnov and Opava from floods. The project was approved in spite of criticism from environment activists and the inhabitants of the nearby village of Nové Heřminovy who will have to move out of their homes to make way for the dam. The owners of the buildings are to receive compensations.
The number of Czechs living and working abroad has more than doubled in the past two years, according to data released by the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. A total of 76,000 Czechs worked in 20 European countries last year. The largest number of Czech citizens, about 30,000, worked in Britain and nearly 14, 000 left for Germany. The country with the third largest Czech labour force last year was Ireland with 12,000 workers, almost three times more than the previous year. The ministry admits that the real figures could be different since some countries don’t require employees to report the end of their work stay.
The government on Monday earmarked a subsidy for Czech beekeepers amounting to 25 million crowns (around 1.5 million US dollars). The country’s bee population has recently been hit by a parasite, probably due to an unusually warm winter. Estimates suggest that as much as 50% of the country’s bees could be wiped out as a result. This could have an effect on the prices of both fruit and vegetables.
A painting by the renowned Czech artist Jan Zrzavý dating back to 1929 was auctioned on Sunday for a record price of 7.1 million CZK (around 440,000 US dollars), the highest sum ever paid for a Zrzavý painting. Piazetta, a painting capturing the Doge’s Palace in Venice, is currently the 12th most expensive picture sold in the country. The Czech auction record was set at the end of last year by Frantisek Kupka’s "Elevation", which was sold for 22.1 million.
The children’s book "Záhádky" by artist and writer Petr Nikl has won the Magnesia Litera Book of the Year Award. The winners of the Magnesia Litera book awards for the best Czech books published in 2007 were announced at Prague's City Library on Saturday night. The author of the Book of the Year has also won the first prize in the category of literature for children and youth.