According to a new poll by the STEM agency, Civic Democrat Jiří Pospíšil, the former justice minister, remains the country’s most popular politician. Forty-nine percent of those who took part in the survey expressed support for Mr Pospíšil, while the head of the opposition Social Democratic Party Bohuslav Sobotka received 47 percent and deputy leader Michal Hašek received the same. Of those who placed in the top 10, only the position of the country’s Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg worsened, dropping from an earlier 49 percent in March to 40 percent in May.
The Constitutional Court on Thursday rejected an appeal by imprisoned businessman Bohumír Ďuričko, who had sought a new trial over the murder of Václav Kočka, jr in 2008. Ďuričko was sentenced to 12.5 years in jail. The convict has maintained that new expert evidence proved he shot the victim in self-defence. The court, however, stated that testimonies by psychologists and psychiatrists could not be treated as new evidence and said they did not affect the original verdict.
Meteorologists have issued a warning that heavy rainfall expected between Thursday and Sunday could lead to a dangerous rise in water levels and possible flooding in areas of northern, western and southern Bohemia. At higher risk are the regions of Ustí and Liberec the Czech news agency reported. The upper Labe, Vltava and Berounka rivers could all see a significant increase of water levels. Locals have been warned to avoid river banks as well as water sports. Motorists have also been asked to drive cautiously as there will be an increased risk of hydroplaning in the coming days.
Czech footballer Milan Baroš, who plays for Baník Ostrava in the Czech league and holds the record for second-most goals scored for the national team, will reportedly begin considering next career steps after the current football season ends. Baroš returned to help his former club, after playing for Turkey’s Galatasaray. During his career, the 31-year-old player also played for Lyon, Aston Villa, and Liverpool. With Liverpool he won the Champions League in 2005. Teams in countries in the Persian Gulf are among the most interested in acquiring the player, according to the Czech news agency.
The European Commission has criticized the Czech Republic for failing to pass a new law on civil servants and said that the country may lose most of the financing it receives from the EU structural funds starting next year. EU officials are concerned that civil servants, especially at Czech ministries, change together with the political leadership, which thwarts continuity and efficiency of policy implementation. The Czech Republic is the only EU country that has yet to pass a law that would prevent high fluctuation in the civil service. If the Czech Republic does not pass the bill by the end of the year, it could lose up to 500 billion crowns in European funding.
The Constitutional Court has completed the first day of hearings concerning the proposal to repeal the law on church property restitution. The proposal was submitted by 18 senators from the Social Democratic, Communist and Public Affairs parties, who claim the law, which came into effect earlier this year, goes against the separation of church and state. The group suggested a number of witnesses to be heard by the court on Wednesday, but the panel of judges rejected them. According to the disputed legislation, the government will pay out approximately 134 billion crowns in property and financial compensation to religious institutions, as restitution for property taken away from them by the state. After hearing the evidence and final arguments, the Constitutional Court suspended proceedings on Wednesday afternoon until next Monday.
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development has published a more pessimistic growth outlook for the Czech Republic. The OECD announced on Wednesday that it expects the country’s GDP to contract by 1 percent this year, even though in November it forecast growth of 0.8 percent. It also cut projected growth for next year from 2.4 to 1.3 percent. The organization suggested that the Czech central bank may want to ease monetary policy in order to improve the situation. Czech officials say they are prepared to weaken the crown if necessary.
The government unanimously approved draft legislation that streamlines the structure of public prosecution and introduces a new anti-corruption agency under the auspices of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office. The bill eliminates the High State Attorney offices in Prague and Olomouc, which should strengthen the position of the Supreme Public Prosecutor’s Office, according to the Justice Ministry, which submitted the bill. The draft legislation also proposes the Supreme Public Prosecutor be nominated by the justice minister and approved by the president, not the government, for a single 10-year term.
An extremist group is holding an anti-Roma demonstration in the north-Bohemian town of Duchcov on Wednesday afternoon in response to an attack on a couple by a group of Romanis in the town. Media has reported that the main organizer of the demonstration has placed racist and violent remarks on his Facebook page. The police said that they are looking into the posts to see if they are in breach of the law on inciting hatred towards a group. The man also admitted that he is a member of the extremist Workers Party of Social Justice.
A Czech-made methamphetamine known as pervitin has in recent years spread to a number of other European states, the national anti-drug coordinator Jindřich Vobořil said at the release of a European report on drugs in Prague. Pervitin addicts have been registered in the Baltic States, Scandinavia and Germany. German officials say dealers and users cross the border to buy the highly addictive drug at markets at Asian-run markets in the Czech Republic. However, Mr. Vobořil rejects a charge from politicians in Bavaria that the Czechs take an overly liberal approach to the matter.