Czech MPs on Wednesday voted against the dissolution of the lower house of Parliament. If passed, the motion would have triggered early general elections within the next 60 days. 96 out of the 188 deputies present voted in favour, 92 against. The Social Democrats and Communists supported the motion; however, former coalition parties, the Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and LIDEM voted against. They argue they dispose of a majority in the lower house capable of producing a government, hoping the government of Jiří Rusnok will not win approval from the lower house, and President Zeman will then appoint a Civic Democrat to form the next cabinet.
State attorney Ivo Ištvan has dropped a request for the Chamber of
Deputies to lift former prime minister Petr Nečas’ immunity so as to
allow criminal proceedings to be taken against him in an alleged bribery
case. Mr Ištván, who is overseeing the case, said such
proceedings could not be taken against the former prime minister or
anybody else until the scope of parliamentary immunity was clearly
The move comes a day after the Supreme Court halted the prosecution of three former MPs charged in the same case. They faced corruption charges over a deal made last November; they were opposed to a government bill but agreed to quit their seats in the lower house in return for lucrative posts in state-run firms. Their arrest in June triggered the fall of the government. However, the Supreme Court said they were covered by parliamentary immunity at the time the alleged offence took place.
Justice Minister Marie Benešová on Wednesday rejected calls to launch disciplinary proceedings against state attorney Ivo Ištván who is in charge of the Nečas case. Following the Supreme Court’s breakthrough ruling in the case, the former prime minister said proceedings against the state attorney should start immediately. Ms Benešová said she would consult Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman before taking a stand on the issue.
President Miloš Zeman will next week hold talks with political parties represented in the lower house in an attempt to win their support for the interim cabinet. The caretaker government of Jiří Rusnok, appointed by the president last week, is bound to seek approval in the Chamber of Deputies in the coming weeks. However, most parties say they would not support the cabinet in a vote of confidence.
The trial of influential businessman Roman Janoušek continues in Prague on Wednesday with the court set to hear more witnesses as well as psychology experts. Mr Janoušek is not attending the second day of the proceedings for health reasons. He faces charges of attempted murder related to a hit-and-run incident from last spring. If convicted, he could spend up to 18 years in jail.
Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman on Wednesday denied reports of a massive debt incurred by his family firm, Agrotrade. The weekly Respekt reported that the firm got hundreds of millions of crowns in credit from banks, and later transferred its assets to another company, leaving Agrotrade some 600 million crowns in the red. However, Mr Toman said he was stationed abroad at that time, and never served on the company’s board. The firm said it would sue the magazine for an apology and damages.
A 63-year-old man died of methanol poisoning in a hospital in Kladno on Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the hospital has said. The man was admitted to hospital after he collapsed on Friday. The police believe the man probably became another victim of the methanol crisis which hit the Czech Republic last year when over 40 died after drinking tainted liquor.
A man in Slavkov, in southern Moravia, faces eight years in prison for collecting endangered insects, a spokeswoman for the country’s environmental inspection agency said on Wednesday. The man allegedly imported over 430 rare beetles and butterflies from Armenia, Greece, China, Solomon Islands, and other countries, or had them sent in from abroad. He also offered some of them for sale, according to the authorities.
A monument marking a synagogue destroyed during the infamous Kristallnacht pogrom in 1938 was unveiled in the north-eastern city of Opava on Wednesday. The object consists of two blocks of red granite, the colour of the synagogue’s façade, the author of the monument said. The Opava synagogue, built in the late 1800s, was set on fire by the Nazis during the so-called Night of Broken Glass when over 1,000 Jewish temples were burnt in Nazi-controlled European territories.
A bronze statue representing a soldier of the Red Army returned to Brno’s central Moravské náměstí square on Wednesday, after months of renovation. The statue, erected in 1955 in homage to Soviet troops which liberated the city at the end of WWII, caused controversy in 1993 when communist symbols along with Stalin’s military order were removed from the pedestal.