Fewer police were accused of committing criminal acts in 2004 than in the previous year. Men and women in police uniform committed roughly 600 crimes in 2003 and 325 last year, according to newly released information from the Interior Ministry. Observers credit a change in the law that would strip sacked police workers of their pensions. Previously, even police who had committed criminal acts were entitled to benefits unless a separate court action was taken to discontinue them. The most common crime remains the abuse of authority.
The Christian Democrats, a junior party in the ruling coalition government, have returned to their earlier position demanding that Prime Minister Stanislav Gross step down for failing to make fully clear how he financed his luxury Prague flat and how his wife secured business loans to buy other property. After a meeting on Saturday morning between with the Christian Democrats leader, Miroslav Kalousek, the prime minister said Kalousek's party should leave the Cabinet if its members did not trust him. Mr Gross also threatened to ask President Vaclav Klaus to sack the three Christian Democrat ministers. For his part, Mr Kalousek told the media that his party's ministers have no intention of quitting their posts. He said it was the "prime minister's scandals" that had led people to question the government's trustworthiness. Mr Kalousek said that the future of this government is danger if Mr Gross remains at its helm.
In related news, the State Attorney's Office will hand over two criminal complaints linked to the funding of Mr Gross' luxury flat over to police investigators. One complaint, filed by an unnamed resident of Teplice, in north Bohemia, accuses Mr Gross, his wife, and his uncle, of accepting bribes and of tax evasion; the latter charge is the sole charge of a second complaint, filed by a Prague resident. A third citizen filed a complaint in Beroun, central Bohemia, charging the prime minister with abuse of office. A state district attorney has said the complaints are "fairly vague" and appear to be based solely on media reports.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who is also chairman of the Social Democratic Party, has said that deputy party chairman Zdenek Skromach will take formal control of the party for a few days, to allow its members to consider their position on the matter. So far the Social Democrats have supported Mr Gross. Even so, the prime minister said he feared the crisis could result in the collapse of the government. The top three leaders of all three coalition parties, the so-called "K9", are due to meet on Wednesday to discuss the situation further.
The leadership of the three governing coalition parties are due to meet on Saturday morning in an effort to hammer out a new working relationship. In recent weeks, Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who is also the chairman of the Social Democratic Party, has come under pressure from the opposition to resign over questions of how he financed the purchase of a luxury Prague flat. But Miroslav Kalousek, the leader of the Christian Democrats, a junior coalition party, had also called for Mr Gross to step down, and there was widespread speculation that the government could collapse.
Meanwhile, the State Attorney's Office will hand over two criminal complaints linked to the funding of Prime Minister Gross' flat over to police investigators. One complaint, filed by an unnamed resident of Teplice, in north Bohemia, accuses Mr Gross, his wife, and his uncle, of accepting bribes and tax evasion; the latter charge is also the subject of the second complaint, filed by a Prague resident. A third citizen filed a complaint in Beroun, central Bohemia, charging the prime minister with abuse of office. A state district attorney has said the complaints are "fairly vague" and appear to be based on media reports.
The Czech Foreign Ministry plans to open an embassy in Moldova. The nearest embassy is currently in Romania and the Czech Republic hopes diplomatic representation in Moldova itself could help bring the country, which is currently led by a Communist government, closer to EU states. Moldova is one of eight countries in which the Czech Republic intends to open an embassy in the near future, despite being forced to close down others due to a lack of finances.
Czech Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, who has been under fire over his personal finances, has gained the support of the junior coalition Freedom Union. In recent weeks, Mr Gross has been grilled by the media and some parliamentary parties over how he had been able to afford to make a 2.5 million Czech crown (107,000 US dollars) down payment on a Prague flat in 1999. The prime minister has given various explanations and nothing to back his claims. Mr Gross has enjoyed full support of his own party, the Social Democrats, and was assured further support by Freedom Union leader Petr Nemec after a meeting on Thursday.
On Thursday afternoon, underwent further grilling in the lower house, in a 45 minute question and answer session called by the opposition centre-right Civic Democrats. Mr Gross also had to answer for his wife's business activities and stressed neither he nor his wife were ever involved in any illegal business. He added that he would raise the mortgage on his flat.
A forty-member military research unit is to be deployed to Afghanistan in March to join a German-run Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the northern region of Badakshan. The Czech Republic currently has only 15 soldiers in Afghanistan in the ISAF mission in Kabul. The NATO Provincial Reconstruction Team is a combination of international military and civilian personnel based in provincial areas of Afghanistan with the aim of extending the authority of the Afghan central government and helping to facilitate development and reconstruction.
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