The Czech Foreign Ministry says it will not close any more Czech embassies, even if its funding is cut as part of efforts to reduce the budget deficit. The Czech News Agency said if the ministry’s budget is reduced it will probably be by about 2 percent. Officials say any savings would have to be made from costs and salaries, while some employees could be let go. Last month the Foreign Ministry shut down an embassy in Angola and a consulate in Montreal, while other such offices are set for closure in four other places. The minister of finance, Eduard Janota, reportedly aims to keep the budget deficit at 5.3 percent of GDP by making savings of CZK 16 billion.
The Czech Republic will focus its development aid on five countries in future, under a new plan approved by the government. Foreign Minister Jan Kohout told reporters that priority would be given to Afghanistan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Ethiopia, Moldova and Mongolia. Mr Kohout said the plan took into account the fact that Prague played a role in the formulation and implementation of the European Union’s development policy. It replaces a previous set of priorities approved in 2005.
The number of children who go missing in the Czech Republic every year has risen by about a third in the last decade, Lidové noviny reported. Last year over 8,500 children were reported missing, around 3,000 more than in the year 2000, the newspaper said. In most cases the missing children are aged between 15 and 18. The police said they had observed a trend of children being abducted as a result of conflict between their separated parents. Another significant group are those who abscond, sometimes repeatedly, from children’s homes. May 25 is International Missing Children’s Day.
A former executive at Galileo Real, a daughter company of the Czech Consolidation Agency, has been found guilty of embezzling CZK 500 million (UDS 23.7 million) from its accounts in 2005. A court in Prague sentenced Jan Šik to five and a half years in jail on Tuesday. An accomplice, Miloš Skořep, was found guilty of using the money for his own activities and got eight and a half years. Mr Skořep was tried in absentia; he was arrested in the United Arab Emirates last year before later being released on bail. Both men have also been ordered to return nearly CZK 100 million.
The Czech government is to impose a compulsory purchase order on land in east Bohemia in order to build a motorway. Farmer Ludmila Havránková has for 16 years been refusing to sell three hectares on which the state wants to build part of the D11 motorway near Hradec Kralové. She says she will continue her legal battle to keep the land, and a government official said it would likely take at least a year for the compulsory purchase order to be carried out.
Four far-right extremists accused of a firebomb attack on a Romany family’s home are not insane and are capable of understanding the danger of their actions, a court appointed psychiatrist said during their trial on Tuesday. He said none of them displayed signs of being psychopaths or pyromaniacs. The four face charges of racially motivated attempted murder after a petrol bomb attack in the town of Vítkov last April that left three members of a Romany family injured. The most seriously hurt was Natálie Siváková, who suffered burns on 80 percent of her body and was at one point close to death.
Fire brigades were called out more than 30 times in south Moravia on Monday night after the region was hit by a violent storm. Cellars were flooded and trees were knocked down, with fire officers having the most work to do in Brno. Water levels on the River Morava have risen and a flood warning has been issued at Lanžhot. Forecasters say the Czech Republic can expect more storms in the next day or two. Last week hundreds of people were evacuated in Moravia after strong rains caused flooding in some places. There was one death, when a woman drowned in her garden after a river burst its banks.
The fastest man alive, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt, has arrived in the north Moravian city of Ostrava ahead of the Golden Spike meeting on Thursday. The superstar sprinter, who holds the world record in the 100 and 200 metres, will be taking part in the Czech Republic’s biggest athletics event for the fourth time in five years. Bolt will run in an uncommon 300 metres race in Ostrava and says he hopes to make a time of under 31 seconds.
The Czech ice hockey forward Roman Červenka is leaving Slavia Prague to join compatriot Jaromír Jágr at Omsk. The most productive player in the Czech elite league last season has signed a two-year deal with the Russian club, it said on its website on Tuesday. Červenka, who is 24, was a member of the Czech squad that won the World Championship at the weekend. He had said he planned to move to the NHL, but received a more lucrative offer from Omsk.
Tomáš Řepka has signed a one-year contract extension with the Czech soccer champions Sparta Prague. The defender, who is 36, recently scored the only goal of the game in which Sparta sealed their 11th league title since 1993. Known for his crunching tackles and hot temper, Řepka has also played for Baník Ostrava, the Italian side Fiorentina and England’s West Ham.