Four youths have been charged with drug trafficking in connection with the death of a 19-year-old student graduate. The young girl overdosed on the party drug Ecstasy at her graduation party last Thursday. Investigators say the pills in question contained an unusually high amount of methamphetamines and other stimulants and have issued a public warning regarding a batch of Ecstasy with the imprint of a dolphin that may be lethal especially when combined with alcohol.
Health Minister Leoš Heger would welcome the practice of putting shocking images on cigarette packs as part of a broad anti-smoking campaign. The health minister said that in his view the drastic pictures could prove effective in putting off young people from smoking. On a panel debate on Sunday the minister admitted that his proposal for a broad smoking ban in restaurants could run into serious problems in the lower house of Parliament, due to intensive lobbying from producers. The government as a whole is against putting shocking images on cigarette packs as being too drastic. The Czech Republic has one of the highest number of smokers in Europe, particularly among the young generation.
The Justice Ministry is considering ways to improve conditions in Czech jailhouses. The move comes in the wake of a stream of complaints from MP David Rath, who has been in detention on corruption charges since last May and who drafted several bills in his cell including one which would improve conditions in Czech prisons. Although his draft proposal was rejected by the cabinet, Justice Minister Pavel Blažek told Czech public television that some suggestions were worth following up, for instance better conditions for hygiene and the possibility to spend more time outdoors.
A Czech tourist and his Slovak guide died in an avalanche in the High Tatra Mountains over the weekend. The Slovak rescue service said it had found their bodies on Saturday evening, locating them by their mobiles. The men were only partly buried and are believed to have died as a result of injuries sustained when the avalanche hurled them down the slope. There is a third degree avalanche alert in force in the region and the Slovak rescue service has advised tourists to exercise extreme caution.
The bout of unseasonably cold weather has been breaking records at monitoring stations around the country. Karlova Studánka in the Jeseníky mountains registered – 19.1 degrees, the lowest temperature on record for this time of year, as did the ski resorts did Pec pod Sněžkou with – 18 degrees and Luční Bouda with – 17.7 degrees Celsius. Out of 143 monitoring stations 96 reported record low temperatures for March 24.
The freezing cold weather has led Prague City Hall to introduce special measures to protect the homeless. Hot soup and tea are being distributed several times a day in the city centre and night shelters for the homeless are open around the clock. The metropolitan police also make regular rounds of the places where the homeless congregate.
The country’s ski resorts report a wave of holiday makers ahead of Easter. Jested hosted 3,000 people over the weekend which is ten times the usual number of skiers at the close of the season. Špindleruv Mlýn reported 7,000 visitors while the Rokytnice nad Jizerou ski resort welcomed 4,500 people. Due to the unusually cold weather and continuing snow showers conditions for skiing are exceptionally good and ski lifts remain in operation. The situation is not expected to change for another week.
The Party of Citizens’ Rights – Zemanovci (SPOZ) has elected Zdeněk Štengl its new leader at a party conference in Prague. Mr. Štengl takes over the party leadership from Vratislav Mynář, who now serves as chancellor to President Miloš Zeman. The president, who has retained honorary chairmanship of the SPOZ party said he firmly believed the party grow in strength and cross the 5 percent support margin needed to win seats in the lower house in the 2014 general elections. However he warned its members against seeking an active role in government alongside the Social Democrats who are expected to win the next general elections. Mr. Zeman pointed out that such a role had proved destructive to all the smaller parties who had succumbed to the lure of power before they were ready for it. He advised SPOZ members to work hard in the opposition and give themselves time to grow and produce strong leaders.
The leadership of the ruling Civic Democratic Party is due to meet on Monday to debate ways of renewing public trust in the face of dwindling support. The party has been steadily losing public support throughout its time in office and opinion surveys now indicate that if elections were held today it would only stand to win between 9 and 16 percent of votes, coming in fourth after the Social Democrats, TOP 09 and the Communist Party. Critics say its drop in popularity is due to the party’s inability to communicate the need for painful fiscal reforms.
The Czech Republic has joined Poland and Germany in rejecting the European Commission´s proposal to set a 40 percent quota for women on the boards of big European companies. Czech lawmakers said the proposal was an intervention in shareholders´ rights and did not take into account the different conditions in individual member countries or in different fields of enterprise. Under the resolution, pushed through by European Commissioner Viviane Reding last November, state-run companies were expected to meet the 40 percent quota for women in 2018 and private companies in 2020. The norm would have concerned about 5000 big companies in the EU.