Petr Lessy was relieved of his duties as the president of the Czech Police
on Wednesday morning. Interior Minister Jan Kubice dismissed Mr Lessy from
the police force with immediate effect following the filing of criminal
charges against him. The General Inspectorate of Security Forces accused
the now former police chief of libel and abuse of public office. At a
conference later in the day, Mr Kubice cited a law that says a police
officer can be dismissed if he is accused of contemptible or possible
criminal behaviour which could threaten the good reputation of the
forces. Mr Lessy told the E15 news server that he considers the
to be nonsensical and is ready to defend himself. Mr Lessy will be
by his former deputy Martin Červíček, the government announced.
The slander charge is connected to statements Mr Lessy made more than half a year ago about the head of the Zlín regional police force Bedřich Koutný and his deputy Jaroslav Vaňek in relation to the so-called Tofl gang case. Interior Minister Jan Kubice has called on Mr Lessy to resign a number of times in the past. Chairman of the opposition Sovial Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, fiercely criticized the move, saying the dismissal is an attempt of the Civic Democrats and the TOP 09 party to curtail the independence of the police force.
The Public Affairs party MP Vít Bárta has filed an appeal of the April decision by the Prague 5 district court, on Tuesday. Judge Jan Šott gave Mr Bárta an eighteen-month suspended sentence for giving fellow party members hefty bribes in the form of interest-free loans in order to increase his influence. Bárta lodged his appeal to the Czech Supreme Court claiming that the court’s decision referred to events that took place in the parliament, where he has immunity as an MP. The appeal in the case of Jaroslav Škárka, who was originally one of Mr Bárta accusers and later became his co-defendant, is also currently under deliberation.
Czech President Václav Klaus has asked Prime Minister Petr Nečas to give a guarantee that the planned church property settlement will not breech the restitution limit of 25 February 1948. President Klaus said in a letter to the heads of the coalition parties that such a guarantee is necessary for him to sign the church restitution bill, that the coalition is planning to pass in the lower house, overriding an earlier Senate veto. The president wrote that he and many others are concerned that if the church settlement will pertain to property changes from before the communist take-over in 1948, it may set a dangerous precedent for the future, opening numerous cases from third parties that may potentially threaten state sovereignty.
A Prague district court acquitted Martin Knetig, one-time advisor to the former Czech environment minister Pavel Drobil, of corruption charges on Tuesday. The state attorney appealed the verdict on the spot. Mr Knetig was accused of corruption after allegedly demanding a bribe from a bank officer in connection with depositing the State Environmental Fund’s money into a number of unspecified banks in 2010. Allegedly, Mr Knetig sought to collect money for the Civic Democratic Party. Pavel Drobil resigned as Environment Minister in December 2010 in relation to the same scandal.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas announced today that his cabinet is in favor of the Czech Senate’s proposal for a constitutional amendment that would divest members of both houses of parliament and the constitutional court judges of life-long immunity. The government had previously supported a similar proposal by a group of MPs. In both cases, cabinet members suggested that the new rules should apply to newly elected officials not to current ones. Both of the submitted proposals want to change the current practice according to which MPs or Senators cannot be tried for criminal offenses at any time, if a parliamentary committee confirms their immunity. The new proposal would give immunity to lawmakers and judges only for the duration of their term, if the lower or upper house do not retract their immunity.
Czech President Václav Klaus has expressed great concern over the dismissal of Police President Petr Lessy on Wednesday. Apparently, the president was not made aware of this crucial move, and the quick naming of Mr Lessy’s deputy Martin Červíček as replacement. President Klaus said in a statement that the interior minister’s decision “will destabilize not only the police force, but the whole of the Czech political sphere as well.” According to Interior Minister Jan Kubice, the Prime Minister Petr Nečas was also not informed of this move beforehand.
The government approved on a new regulation that states that patients sets a specific distance within which providers of medical services can be reached and changes the waiting time for certain operation. The directive, that was submitted by Health Minister Leoš Heger and was approved on Wednesday, guarantees that patients should be able to reach their general practioners, dentists, gynecologists, and pharmacies at most within 35 minutes by car, and shortens the maximum waiting period for operations like knee and hip replacements or mammograms. Waiting periods for some medical procedures were increased. Unions, the National Disability Council and the Czech Association of Patients criticized the establishment of a distance for practitioners claiming this will allow health insurance companies to terminate contracts with some doctors and hospitals.
The Czech government approved a budget for aid to Afghanistan for the period 2014-2017 on Wednesday. The Czech Republic will give a total of 80 million crowns for development projects and 60 million more to support security forces in Afghanistan. The newly structured funds are meant to substitute the work of Czech Army’s Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Logar province, which is part of NATO’s International Security Assistance Force mission. The Czech team is set to leave Afghanistan in the middle of next year.
City officials in Ostrava has requested a district court to rule on the ownership rights of the defunct sewer in the Přednádraží district, where a slum is located. The Přednádraží slum, that has been occupied primarily by Romani tenants, has been at the center of month-long controversy. City officials have been trying to get residents to leave the slum buildings that have fallen into disrepair and have been deemed uninhabitable. The buildings’ owner, who has been issued with a fine, claimed he is willing to carry out necessary repairs as long as the city fixes the sewage system, which does not belong to him. City officials have claim that this particular section of the sewage does not belong to the city either. Approximately 100 people remain in some of the buildings without running water or other amenities for almost a month.
The national tourism agency CzechTourism is launching a new campaign to promote the country abroad. Magazine and newspaper ads in different countries refer to well-know historical figures from those nations that have visited the Czech Republic. German tourists will read about Johann Wolfgang Goethe’s amorous adventures in Mariánské Lázně; French readers will be beckoned to visit the country by learning about how Guillaume Apollinaire was so inspired by Prague that he wrote his famous story Prague Walker in two days. The campaign will also extend to Czech tourist and will cover all the regions of the country.