The crash of a Czech bus in central Croatia early Saturday morning took the lives of eight people. According to Croatian media the dead include one young child and one of the drivers; another forty people were reportedly injured though none are said to be in critical condition. The bus was on its way from Brno carrying holidaymakers from the travel agency Atlas Adria and belongs to the company JS Bus. According to reports, the bus, carrying 51 people, first struck a pole before ramming into the median and flipping over. The cause is not yet known.
A conference of the Public Affairs party has re-elected Radek John as chairman for another two years. Mr John received the support of 67 delegates, while 19 delegated voted against him and two of the cast ballots were invalid. Tomas Jarolim, Petr Skokan, Jiri Kohout, Jana Drastichova and Katerina Klasnova were chosen as deputy chairpersons. John said that under his leadership the former-coalition, now opposition party would try to promote change and her hoped that people will notice it. Public Affairs joined the opposition after a split, with a number of members following Karolina Peake to form the LIDEM party, which remains in the coalition government.
The Prague Municipal Court has ruled that the office of the Czech president must disclose information about its employees´ pay and bonuses. The information had been sought by the daily Lidové noviny for nearly a year, particularly regarding the pay of President Vaclav Klaus´s controversial secretaries Ladislav Jakl and Petr Hajek, however the office insisted it was not authorised to provide the information. The Municipal Court ruled that the employees in question were important officials in leading posts, and people had the unchallengeable right to information about their wages. The office has 15 day to provide the information to Lidové noviny and cover court expenses of 3000 crowns.
The head of the Czech National Council of Disabled People has filed a criminal complaint against Health Minister Leoš Heger over what it deems to be unlawful steps in health care reform. Chairman Vaclav Krása writes in the complaint that the recent raising of patients’ fees pay for hospital stays is unlawful and unconstitutional, as is the introduction of paid extra care. The council suspects Heger of abuse of power and harming other people´s rights, implementing controversial direct payments by patients in spite of the fact that the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms (part of the Czech constitution) guarantees free health care and medial aids for free to Czech citizens and creating unequal conditions of people´s access to health care.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said today he fears plans for the establishment of a union of banks within the European Union might jeopardise the single financial market in the EU. Some European politicians, including European Commission head Jose Barroso, are calling for the establishment of the bank union in reaction to the current crisis. However, Mr Kalousek says it is not possible to expect that all countries will participate in the bank union and warns that if the union were formed by only some countries, it might be the end of the single financial market in the EU. The plan – which entails greater integration of the banking sector, stronger regulation and changes in insurance policies and bank guarantees - will be discussed by EU governments and heads of states at a summit in Brussels next week.
Several dozen people gathered in Prague on Saturday to commemorate post-war politician Milada Horáková and other victims of communism on the weekend before the 62nd anniversary of her execution by the Communist regime. Horáková was executed on charges of treason and conspiracy after a show trial on June 27, 1950. People paid their respects to her and others at the monument to 235 victims of communism in front of Pankrác Prison in Prague, where Horáková and others were imprisoned and killed. Milada Horáková served in the anti-fascist resistance during WWII, before becoming an MP for the National Socialists. She left politics after the Communist coup in 1948 and was arrested the next year. The Supreme Court overturned her conviction in 1968, however she was only exonerated in 1990.
Doctors are struggling to save a four-year-old boy who was found on the tracks of the metro in Prague on Friday evening. The boy will likely remain in critical condition for several more days, after doctors worked five hours to save his leg. The child was found in the metro tunnel with serious injuries between the Opatov and Chodov stations. Rescuers believe he was either hanging on between wagons before falling through, or was walking down the track and was struck by the train. Police are unable to provide further information in light of his age.
The Visegrad group states have said the solution to the EUs debt crisis must not undermine growth or hurt the common market. At their session in Prague on Friday the heads of government of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary stressed the need for long-term, far-reaching changes which would gradually restore confidence on EU financial markets. Meeting ahead of next week’ s EU summit in Brussels the Visegrad group warned against quick solutions in the form of a hastily conceived fiscal union which EU members would be asked to support without closer inspection.
The lower house on Friday failed to vote on a bill on the restitution of
church property, now in its third reading, due to procrastination tactics
employed by the opposition parties. The opposition Social Democrats who
strongly oppose the proposed legislation conducted a protracted debate in
order to prevent a possible vote on the bill in the course of this
parliament session. Their aim was to get the vote postponed until July,
after which they plan to veto it in the Senate where they have a majority
meaning that it would return to the lower house in September. The
opposition’s argument is that the ruling parties would have a more
difficult time pushing through the bill on the eve of the senate and
regional elections in view of strong public opposition to it.
Under the draft legislation, the Czech state would return some 56 percent of the physical property worth around 75 billion crowns; for the rest, Czech churches and religious societies would receive some 60 billion crowns in compensation over a period of 30 years.
The finance ministry wants to get the controversial privatization of the Mostecka uhelna coal mining company annulled and is seeking to receive damages from six former managers who allegedly siphoned close to 7 billion crowns from the company. The police have accused the men of insider trading and abuse of power. They are suspected of illegally taking over 3 billion crowns from the company in 1998 and subsequently using the money to buy its shares. Paradoxically, it was the Swiss authorities who launched an investigation into the company’s privatization in 2005. The equivalent of 12 billion crowns was blocked in Swiss accounts.