The month-old baby girl who was kidnapped and abducted to Germany is on her way home. Baby Michaela who was forcibly taken from her mother in the street when she was just 18-days old has been identified and handed over to her mother. The child was found by German police a week after her abduction thanks to cameras which registered the number of the kidnappers’ rented vehicle. Four people have been arrested in connection with the case. The motive of the crime is still not clear.
The health ministry has tabled a proposed amendment to the law on advertising which is to prevent funeral services from insensitive advertising, the internet daily idnes reported on Saturday. The paper says that in an effort to sell their services some funeral companies cross the border of good taste placing ads in the close vicinity of hospitals and drugstores. In other cases hospital staff distributed such leaflets to the families of diseased patients. The proposed amendment which to be put to the cabinet, places clear restrictions on where funeral services may advertise.
A twenty-six-year old man is reported to have died at the Masters of Rock festival underway in the town of Vizovice, in eastern Moravia. The man is reported to have gone to sleep very drunk and most likely died of heart failure in his sleep. An autopsy is being performed to ascertain the precise cause of death.
Ten people are reported to have been injured in a serious accident in Březnice, southern Bohemia. Two cars, each carrying five passengers, collided head on in the early morning hours of Saturday. All ten passengers were injured, five of them seriously. One of the cars was carrying a family with three children aged 2,10 and 16. The ten-year old boy suffered serious chest and stomach injuries and was airlifted to hospital as was his mum who suffered a spinal injury. The five young women from the other vehicle were also rushed to nearby hospitals. The injuries of the others were light to serious. It is not clear what caused one of the cars to swerve into the opposite lane.
The lower house on Friday approved the government’s tax reform. The bill, which was passed in its third reading, envisages a one percent hike in Value Added Tax to 15 and 21 percent respectively, fewer tax reliefs for entrepreneurs and the introduction of a 7-percent “solidarity tax” for people with monthly salaries over 100,000 crowns. The tax reform is part of an austerity package aimed at bringing the deficit in public finances under 3 percent of GDP. The proposed tax hikes, which will now be debated in the Senate came under fire from some deputies within the prime ministers Civic Democratic Party who say they will undercut growth.
Finance Minister Miloslav Kalousek went before Parliament’s security committee on Friday to defend himself against allegations that he had lobbied and even threatened the police president in connection with the investigation of the dubious purchase of CASA planes for the Czech army. Addressing the committee, Mr. Kalousek admitted that he had made three phone calls to the police president on July 4th but claimed that had all been related to the purchase of a new fleet of cars for the police. He firmly denied having put pressure on the police president in connection with the CASA investigation which concerns a close party colleague of his, Vlasta Parkanová.
Meanwhile the police president, Petr Lessy, who told the same committee on Thursday that the finance minister called him personally three times in one day to complain about the police investigation in the purchase of CASA planes for the army is standing by his story and says he is ready to take a lie detector test to prove it. He claims that Mr. Kalousek first threatened him and the whole team working on the case and later called again to tone down his remarks and apologize.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice has asked the Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman to look into claims that political pressure was exerted on the police in connection with the CASA investigation. Mr. Kubice said he wanted the matter investigated despite receiving assurances from police president Petr Lessy that the investigation was proceeding as it should. Mr. Lessy told Czech Television that the calls from the finance minister had not in any way affected the work of the police on the case.
The security and defence committee in Parliament on Friday called on Prime Minister Nečas to dismiss the finance minister over the affair. Mr. Nečas had earlier warned all members of his cabinet that anyone who tried to interfere in the investigation of the sensitive CASA case would have to go. Mr. Nečas has said little in the matter so far, merely stating that the police president’s accusations were very grave and he was waiting to see the evidence produced.
The opposition Social Democrats say they will table a vote of no confidence in the centre-right government next week. Following a meeting of the deputies’ club on Friday party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said the present situation was intolerable and that the opposition would make the move despite the fact that to all accounts it does not have the votes needed to bring down the government. Observers note that the opposition may be hoping to get unexpected support from those Civic Democrats who strongly oppose the government’s tax reform.
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