Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is to meet with Petr Dohnal, the former head of the Prison Service who was recalled from his post last week by Justice Minister Helena Válková. The justice minister cited loss of trust in Mr. Dohnal and in his abilities to reform the prison service successfully. The dismissed head of the prison service says he will attack her decision in court, considering it unjust and ungrounded. The prime minister has said he wants to hear both sides of the story.
The high court in Olomouc has confirmed a 30-year prison sentence for a 25-year-old man convicted of the brutal murder of two people. The court upheld the extraordinary sentence on the grounds of the exceptional brutality and callousness of the crime. The man, who admitted to the murders, killed his ex-girlfriends’ parents in their home as an act of revenge. Both suffered multiple stab wounds, many of them lethal. He then stole what cash there was in the house bought new clothes and a mobile and arranged a meeting with his former girlfriend. A thirty year sentence is the second highest punishment under Czech law, second to a life sentence.
Preparations are underway for celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of the country’s accession to the European Union on May 1st. The authorities are planning a series of events including conferences, exhibitions and concerts. An international conference entitled “The Czechs through the eyes of Europe, Europe through the eyes of Czechs” is taking place at Prague Castle this Friday. It will be addressed by President Miloš Zeman, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, EU Commissioner for Expansion Stefan Fule and former Italian prime minister Mario Monti, among others. EU President Herman van Rompoy will be present at the celebrations, arriving in Prague on April 30.
Two candidates are in the running for the post of police president, vacated by the resignation of Martin Pecina in February, the ctk news agency reports. One of the candidates is Pecina’s former deputy Tomáš Tuhý, who is presently running the force as acting police president. The second candidate is the head of the Inspection Agency of the Police Force Dušan Brunclík. The next police chief will be selected by a special commission. A decision is expected early next week.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš on Tuesday failed to reach agreement on a state contribution to hospitals in compensation for the hospital fees that were scrapped at the beginning of this year. Although the government has approved a proposal to give hospitals 2.1 billion crowns in 2014 the two sides are still at odds over what financial assistance hospitals should get in the coming years. Finance Minister Babiš argues that hospitals could save vast amounts of money though better management and is opposed to generous hand-outs from state coffers. The issue will be debated again at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.
German President Joachim Gauck is set to arrive in the Czech Republic on a three-day official visit in early May, a spokesman for the Czech president said. The visit is planned between May 5 and 7. No details of the president’s programme in the Czech Republic have been released but the German head of state will likely take part in commemorating the end of WWII as well as the Prague uprising against the Nazi rule which began on May 5, 1945. Mr Gauck and his Czech counterpart, Miloš Zeman, first met in Germany last June; the German president first officially visited the Czech Republic in 2012.
The former Palestinian ambassador in Prague, Muhammad Jamal, who died in an explosion on New Year’s Day, was killed by a semtex charge concealed in a book, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday quoting police sources. An investigator told the paper the police was now only working with one version of what happened; the Palestinian diplomat was going through old things at the embassy with no knowledge there were two explosive charges among them. The police said last month he died after the charge exploded in his hands. The police are reportedly nearly 100 percent positive the explosive was the Czechoslovak-made semtex from the 1970s.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka sees no need to revise the government’s coalition agreement over recent arguments between the Social Democrat and ANO parties. Speaking during his visit to the Zlín region on Monday, Mr Sobotka said adhering to the agreement’s principles was the best way of settling the dispute; the prime minister and ANO leader and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš have clashed over plans to assist the mining firm NWR with keeping its Paskov mine operational until 2016 after Mr Babiš refused to back the originally proposed 1.1 billion crown in support for the mine, and made his own deal with the firm. Mr Babiš and Mr Sobotka are going to discuss their views at a meeting planned for Tuesday, the news agency ČTK reported.
The Civic Democrats will give back one million crowns they had received under suspicious circumstances, party chair Petr Fiala told a news conference in Prague on Monday. The party received the donation in 2013 from a 22-year-old woman on a maternity leave; Czech medial reported she owns no property, and speculated the real donor might have been her partner, an entrepreneur in medical products. The Civic Democrats said they would give the money back despite the fact no law was breached, and that they would tighten the rules for accepting donations in the future.
Czech exports to Ukraine dropped by 28.8 percent in February while exports to Russia registered an 0.4 percent in that month, the Czech Statistical Office said on Monday. Analysts see the Crimea crisis as the main reason behind the drop, as well as a slowdown of the Russian economy. Overall, Czech exports grew by over 15 percent in February, driven by trade with Germany, Austria, China, France, and other countries. A spokesman for the Exporters’ Association said Czech companies were concerned about an escalation of the crisis in Ukraine, adding that many expect lower volumes of new orders from their Russian business partners.