Czech author Lenka Procházková has filed a criminal complaint against Prime Minister Petr Nečas and members of his government over the proposed restitution of church property. Ms Procházková says the government members committed abuse of public office and breach of trust in agreeing to give the churches property that does not belong to them. Last Wednesday the government approved a bill intended to address the communist-era nationalisation of the property of churches and religious communities during the 1950s. Procházková says there are doubts as to whether the restitution is legal and objects that the bill does not contain a list of the properties in question.
Police noted a 15% rise in rapes in 2011 compared to the preceding year as well as a rise in the creation and possession of child pornography. Vice crime in general was up by 15% according to police, while clear-up rates were down by five percent. Violent crimes were also up by seven percent to nearly 19,500 cases. The number of murders – 173 – was exactly the same in 2011 as in the year before, though five percent less were solved. Sixty-five percent of reported crimes last year involved property crimes.
Artist Krištof Kinter has won the Personality of the Year art award for his sculpture of a streetlamp shining upwards at Prague’s Nuselský Bridge. The sculpture is dedicated to those who committed suicide by jumping from the bridge. The winner was chosen by a ten-member jury from some 40 names and receives a black square that has been painted over from the previous year’s winner.
The Czech Republic’s Petra Kvítová advanced to the third round of the Australian Open on Thursday, beating Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 2-6, 6-4. The match was a close one for the World No. 2 and Wimbledon champion, who won the first set, but was beat by her Spanish opponent in the second. Suarez Navarro took a 2-0 lead in the decider but Kvítová regained control and won a close third game. The Czech tennis star will face either Russia’s Maria Kirilenko or Canada's Aleksandra Wozniak in the third round.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on Wednesday that the Czech central bank
would most likely not channel 3.5 million euro (about 90 billion Czech
crowns) through the International Monetary Fund as part of a European
scheme aimed at fighting the debt crisis in the Eurozone. EU leaders had
requested that Prague commit that amount at a summit last month. The Czech
contribution –which is in effect a loan – will be “very
lower” since the majority of the government are opposed to contributing
the sum requested, the prime minister told reporters. The actual amount
Czech Republic is willing to contribute will be announced by the Czech
finance minister, Miroslav Kalousek, in a week from now.
At a last-ditch summit in Brussels in December, EU leaders drafted a plan under which European central banks would channel a total of 150 billion euros through the IMF in exchange for fresh pledges of fiscal probity from European governments.
The Czech government has agreed that a referendum should be held on the Czech Republic’s possible participation in a new European Union treaty aimed at tightening budgetary controls in the Eurozone. The Civic Democrats, who lead the government, on Wednesday pushed the policy through in conjunction with Public Affairs, the smallest party in the coalition. TOP 09 deputies were opposed to the idea. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said a referendum on signing up to the pact could be linked to a second referendum on adopting the common European currency. He also said the cabinet would need the authorization of the president before it could negotiate or sign the treaty. President Václav Klaus has been critical of the pact and has said he will refuse to put his signature to it. Mr. Nečas said the government would only adopt a definitive position on the matter once a final version of the EU document has been produced.
The Czech Republic will continue its practice of voluntary surgical castration of sex offenders, Prime Minister Petr Nečas told reporters on Wednesday. The practice, which has come under fire from international human rights groups, was not a violation of human rights and under certain circumstances could be a viable alternative to life-long detention, the prime minister said. He added that such a procedure always requires the approval of the sex offender and that only very few decide to undergo castration. The fact that surgical castration is still an option in the Czech Republic, one of the few countries to conserve it, has been criticized by the Council of Europe.
Czech MEP Oldřich Vlasák has been elected one of the European Parliament’s 14 vice presidents. Mr. Vlasák, a European Conservatives and Reformists group member from the Czech Civic Democratic party (ODS), will be serving a 2.5 year term. Upon being elected on Wednesday, he said his main focus of interest would be the strengthening of Euro-Atlantic ties as well as improving the efficiency of the European Parliament. Czech Social Democrat Libor Rouček, who has held the post for 2.5 years, did not seek re-election due to an agreement under which the socialist faction in the European Parliament gave up two seats in exchange for German socialist candidate, Martin Schulz, becoming the European Parliament’s new president.
A month after the death of former Czech president Václav Havel, an
elementary school in the Central Bohemian town of Poděbrady has been
renamed after the late president. In a public ceremony, the school’s new
name was unveiled on Wednesday. Václav Havel had studied in Poděbrady
lived nearby the school that now carries his name. It is the first school
in the country to be named after Mr. Havel, who died on December 18, 2011
at the age of 75.
According to a Czech member of the European Parliament, it is also likely that one of the parliament’s buildings will be named after Mr. Havel. A petition to rename Prague’s international Ruzyně airport after the late president has received over 80,000 signatures to date.
A woman who was attacked by a group of Romanies on New Year’s Day in the North Bohemian town of Varnsdorf has died in hospital. Police said on Wednesday that an autopsy will shed light on whether she died as a result of injuries suffered at the hands of her attackers. Two of them have been charged with assault and battery. Police believe that one of the suspects may have had racial motives. Some 200 people gathered in Varnsdorf on Sunday to express their support for the woman and her family, who were with her when the attack happened. Crime and racial tensions have been escalating in the town since last year.