The jailed former prime minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko failed to receive adequate medical care in prison and her condition is serious, Czech MEP Zuzana Roitova told the CTK news agency by phone from Kiev on Tuesday. MEP Roitova, a former Czech health minister, was sent to Kiev to prepare a report on Yulia Tymoshenko’s condition for the European Parliament. Ms. Roitova said she had been allowed to study the opposition leader’s medical records, though was not allowed to meet with her in person. The MEP said that the medical records clearly show that the findings in the area of the lumbar spine are so serious that a decision should have been made on possible surgery. She said that instead of treating her the prison authorities had taken away Tymoshenko’s crutches, halted administering pain-killers and subjected her to long sessions of interrogation. Roitova also noted that she considers substantiated her family’s fears she was being exposed to toxic substances in order to make her fold under pressure.
The Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka, newly elevated to the post of cardinal in a ceremony at the Vatican on Saturday, returned to Prague on Tuesday. The cardinal headed straight for St. Vitus’ Cathedral where he bowed to the relics of Saint Adalbert and knelt for a few minutes in silent prayer. He was then received by President Václav Klaus who said Dominik Duka’s appointment to the post of cardinal was confirmation of the good work of the Czech Catholic Church in upholding basic Christian values in present-day Czech society. Alongside his predecessor, former Prague archbishop Miloslav Vlk, Dominik Duka is the country’s second living cardinal.
The Security Committee of the lower house is holding a special session on
the functioning of the High State Attorney’s Office in Prague. The
session, called by the head of the security committee Radek John, of Public
Affairs, was called to throw more light on an in-depth audit ordered by the
provisional head of the High State Attorney’s Office in Prague Stanislav
Mečl. However critics say that the real reason for the meeting is the
politicization of a rift between the Supreme State Attorney’s Office and
the High State Attorney’s Office in Prague.
Relations between the two institutions are strained in the wake of a court ruling last week which effectively reinstated Vlastimil Rampula –whom the Supreme State Attorney had accused of sweeping corruption cases involving politicians under the carpet - to his post at the head of the Prague High State Attorney’s Office.
In related news, the Prague Municipal Court, which on Tuesday made available the full text of the verdict, said Mr. Rampula’s dismissal was not sufficiently justified. The ruling has also undermined the position of Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil who sacked Mr. Rampula at the request of Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman. Some observers claim that the controversy may be linked to efforts by the junior coalition party Public Affairs to gain control of the Justice Ministry, a claim the party has strongly rejected.
The victim of a judicial error is demanding 35 million crowns in compensation. Jan Šafránek who was wrongly sentenced for rape spent a year in prison before police caught up with the real culprit. In one of the first court rulings on the case a Prague district court ordered the Justice Ministry to pay Šafránek 366 000 crowns in compensation relating to lost profits. The Prague Supreme Court is to decide how much Šafránek should get for the trauma he suffered and damage to his reputation. Commentators say this is one of the most glaring cases of judicial error in the country’s modern history.
A rise in alcohol consumption among teenagers has resulted in a move to tighten punishment for selling alcohol to minors. The National Anti-Drug Coordinator Jindrich Voboril on Tuesday confirmed that a proposed amendment to the law should significantly raise fines for the offense and should give the authorities the right to close down for several days pubs which repeatedly break the law. According to a survey by ESPAD – the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs – 21 percent of Czech 16-year olds go on a drinking spree at least three times a month, 15 percent of those drink spirits. The number of teenage girls who drink beer has doubled since 1995.
Economist Jan Švejnar, whom the Social Democrats are considering fielding as their candidate for the post of president, has said he is not yet certain he wants to enter the race. Mr. Švejnar said he would prefer to see the new election rules which Parliament has yet to agree on before making up his mind. The US-based economist is slated as one of the two hot candidates for the post together with the former prime minister Jan Fischer. The other Social Democrat nominee being considered is Social Democrat deputy head Jiří Dienstbier.
Czech detectives are looking into a second reprieve granted by President Václav Klaus under dubious circumstances, according to the news website Tyden.cz. Citing anonymous sources, the website writes that Mr Klaus suspended the five-year prison sentence of businessman Tomáš Malina, who was convicted of fraud worth hundreds of millions of crowns. The reprieve was reportedly based on Mr Malina’s medical condition, however the prison service says his health is good and that he should begin serving his sentence. The article goes on to say that two anonymous pieces of information provided to the state attorney´s office show that Mr Malina manipulated health reports and paid to arrange the reprieve via a friend of Mr Klaus, Václav Petr. Last week it emerged that a woman convicted of corruption and pardoned by the president had been in contact with his wife, Livia, on a regular basis.
Actor and senator for the Civic Democratic party Tomáš Topfer is to head Prague’s prestigious Vinohrady Theatre as of September 1st. He will be replacing 72-year-old Jindrich Gregorini who earlier announced his decision to retire. Topfer, a well known theatre actor who has headed another Prague theatre –Na Fidlovačce – since 1998, received unanimous support from Prague councilors. His senatorial mandate is due to expire in the autumn.
The extended weekend metro service in the Czech capital will soon be a thing of the past. Prague city councilors on Tuesday voted unanimously to scrap the extended service of Prague’s metro and bus lines one hour past midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. The decision was taken for financial reasons and other restrictions are expected to follow. It is not yet clear when the change to metro and bus schedules will be introduced.