President Miloš Zeman signed a document on Wednesday officially dissolving the lower house of parliament, roughly a week after MPs voted in favour of the motion with 140 votes. It was the first time that the Czech Chamber of Deputies had decided for its own dissolution. The president has scheduled early elections for the last weekend in October – the 25th and 26th. Politicians have begun gearing up for campaigns; a number of new or newer political parties will vie to get into the lower house along with long-established parties, among them Citizen’s Rights – Zemanites, the Greens, Sovereignty, ANO or LES (launched on Tuesday by former environment minister Martin Bursík).
In a statement released on Wednesday, former president Václav Klaus made clear he was turning down a chance to make a political comeback, confirming he will not run in the upcoming election. In recent days there was increased speculation the ex-president would return to party politics; Mr Klaus, who had met with numerous supporters, said he had weighed the decision carefully. In Mr Klaus’ view, he could have founded a party which would have fared successfully, but he made clear that two months to Election Day was too short a period for it to fulfil all of his criteria. The head of the small extra-parliamentary Sovereignty party, Jana Bobošíková, as well as several members of the Civic Democrats strongly backed Mr Klaus’ return. The former president may support one of the existing parties in the coming weeks.
The Constitutional Court has struck down a suspended prison sentence given to midwife Ivana Königsmarková in 2009 for criminal negligence in the birth of a child that died 20 months later. Originally, she received a two-year suspended sentence, a 2.7-million crown fine and was banned from working as a midwife. She has maintained her innocence and said that there was no evidence beforehand that the birth would be a complicated one. She also maintained that the trial was an attack on home births in general by the Czech medical establishment. Her sentence was reaffirmed by the appeals court and the Supreme Court last year.
The outgoing interim government on Wednesday approved the country’s first-ever plan to try and comprehensively tackle the problem of homelessness. The proposal looks at the possibilities in public housing, health care and other social services up until 2020 to help those on the street. The Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs has until the end of the year to outline the order of projects, Minister František Koníček confirmed. According to the minister, the country currently has 30,000 people who are homeless, but the number could rise up to 100,000. The age group most at risk are those over the age of 65, he confirmed.
The Czech Republic lacks enough readily-available psychiatric care for youngsters the country’s ombudsman, Pavel Varvařovský has charged, saying the situation led to needless hospitalisation. The country should have around 100 paediatric psychiatrists but has 30 fewer, he told journalists on Wednesday. The Ombudsman’s Office looked closely at the matter of psychiatric care for children in 2011 and 2012. The Czech Republic currently has three psychiatric centres for children: in Louny, Velká Biteš and Opařany. Problems treated include depression, anti-social behaviour, and eating disorders.
Material damages in a clash between right-wing extremists and police in Ostrava at the weekend and the clean-up cost the city some 70,000 crowns the city said, stressing that a substantially higher sum of more than 465,000 crowns would be the bill for employing riot police. The city’s mayor, Petr Kajnar, suggested that the cost was not unacceptable given the size of the overall budget; at the same time he suggested Ostrava would take legal action against those who damaged property. At the weekend, 300 police officers came out in force; 21 of them and a number of extremists were injured in clashes. Sixty-two people were detained and a number of them charged with disorderly conduct. Extremists have called another demonstration for late September.
The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint by American national Gilbert Ferguson Mc Crae, sentenced to 16 years in jail for murder. Two years ago, Mr Mc Crae shot and killed a 34-year-old, who had allegedly shouted obscenities at him a bar earlier, point blank on Prague’s 22 tram. The murder was discovered after 1 am. The convicted Mc Crae had argued that his rights had not been respected in the case but the court called his claim unsubstantiated.
Police have shelved their investigation into a tragic crash in last year’s Barum Rally which claimed one life and left one person injured. According to investigators, no crime was committed: no mistake was uncovered on the part of organisers, who had sections properly marked off. The tragedy happened during the race last September when a Subaru Impreza driven by the team of Václav Kopáček and Tomáš Singer flew off the road at 160 kilometres per hour. The man killed was 54-years-old. Police are continuing to investigate another rally race in November where four bystanders died.
The police are searching for 35-year-old Miloš Babyka, a police officer in Plzeň, who is believed to have killed his wife. Officials warn the man, whose whereabouts remain unknown, is dangerous and possibly armed. A police spokeswoman declined to reveal additional details but the Czech News Agency reported the victim was likely stabbed; according to unconfirmed sources, she was found by neighbours in front of her apartment. Anyone with information has been asked to contact the authorities.