President-elect Zeman has said he will veto a bill that would allow for deputies from LIDEM, the smallest party in the coalition government, to form a parliamentary group. Mr. Zeman is a critic of LIDEM, a breakaway group from the disgraced Public Affairs, because the party has never stood in an election. He says their membership in the coalition casts doubt on its legitimacy and has called for early elections. If Mr. Zeman refuses to sign the bill when he becomes head of state, the Chamber of Deputies can overturn his veto with a simple majority.
The police are investigating the brutal murder of a four-year-old in the town of Česká Lípa. The child, who was alone with its mother when the police arrived, died of stab wounds to the neck. The mother was also critically injured. Police suspect she may have killed her child and tried to commit suicide. There were no signs of forced entry into the home. In line with the family’s wishes the police have refused to disclose further details.
The authorities in Prague are planning to raise the fine for the towing away of illegally parked cars by CZK 600 to CZK 1,900. The change is set to come into effect at the start of April. A spokesperson said the fine had been at the same level since 2001. Some 40,000 cars were towed away in the Czech capital last year, down from 70,000 in 2008. The price per day of “leaving” one’s vehicle at the centre where towed away cars are kept will also go up.
An elephant calf born at Prague zoo on Monday is female, a spokesperson said on Tuesday. The baby was born to an elephant named Donna that came from Rotterdam zoo last year and keepers from the Dutch city were present for the birth. The elephant calf is the first one born at the zoo in its 80-year history and has generated a lot of interest, with 10,000 people “liking” a picture of it on its Facebook page. It will be shown to the public for the first time at the end of next month.
The Sand Martin has been declared bird of the year in the Czech Republic. Ornithologists have called for protection of the smallest member of the swallow family, whose nesting has been impacted by changes linked to the management of the Czech Republic’s river system. Between 15,000 and 30,000 pairs of Sand Martins are believed to nest in the country every year.
The former Fiorentina and West Ham defender Tomáš Řepka says he may play for a club in a Czech regional league for “a beer and a sausage”, TV Nova reported. Řepka, who is 39, has been without a club since being released by top flight side České Budějovice before Christmas. However, if Řepka – known for his aggressive style and propensity to pick up red cards – does sign for Dobrovice he would also receive CZK 80,000 a week, Nova said.
The Archbishop of Prague, Cardinal Dominik Duka has praised Pope Benedict’s leadership of the Catholic Church saying his decision to resign was an act of courage. Cardinal Duka recalled the Pope’s state visit to the Czech Republic in 2009 and its role in raising awareness and understanding of the role of the church in modern society. He called on believers to pray for the Pope’s health. The Archbishop of Olomouc Jan Graubner said the Pope’s resignation was a sign of respect for the office he held and showed great spiritual strength and humility.
Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman has appealed a court decision to stop the prosecution of several managers of the fraudulent construction firm H-System which stripped clients of nearly one billion crowns. The founder of the bankrupt construction company H-system Petr Smetka was sentenced to 12 years in prison back in 2004 but the case against three of the firm’s managers has dragged on. A Prague court recently stopped their prosecution on the grounds that the case falls under the presidential amnesty declared on January 1st. State attorneys have protested that the amnesty, which saw the release of some 6,000 prisoners, may halt several major corruption and embezzlement cases. The justice minister has pledged to do his utmost to prevent that.
Bulgarian Energy Minister Delyan Dobrev has ordered checks on energy bills issued by the Czech power distributor ČEZ and Austria’s EVN in the wake of street protests over excessive prices at the weekend. Bulgarians took to the streets in ten cities to protest over their January electricity bills which were significantly higher than in the previous month. ČEZ says the higher bills reflect increased consumption over the Christmas holidays and a harsher-than-usual winter. ČEZ recently pulled out of Albania after having its license to operate Albania’s national grid revoked. The move followed months of controversy over unpaid bills.
Trade and Industry Minister Martin Kuba has said he wants the government to look into the burgeoning solar energy scandal as soon as possible. The head of the Energy Regulatory Office Alena Vitásková last week accused her predecessors of having illegally upped the prices of electricity from solar plants incurring damages to the tune of tens of billions of crowns. Meanwhile, the head of the Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association says that the audit on which Ms Vitáskova based her accusations was doctored and was intended to cover up the organization’s present failings. The government is expected to discuss the matter later this week.