The Czech president, Václav Klaus, says he will not veto a bill that would bar the media from publishing or broadcasting police wiretaps. In a letter to the chairman of the Czech Syndicate of Journalists, Miroslav Jelínek, the president said he did not see any way in which a new law on the subject contravened the Czech constitution. A number of Czech and international journalists’ groups have called on Mr Klaus not to sign the bill, which they say would be an infringement on the freedom of the press. Speaking in response to the president’s letter, Mr Jelínek said the matter should now go before the Constitutional Court.
Last week MPs from most parties in the Chamber of Deputies voted to overturn a Senate veto on the law. If it comes into effect, journalists who publish wiretaps could face up to five years in jail.
Police are questioning an 18-year-old who left her three-month old daughter in an anonymous “babybox” at a hospital in Ostrava and now wants the child back. Aneta Tokarcíková said she had abandoned her baby Barbora because of straitened circumstances. The child’s father is now in prison for burglary after being placed on a nationwide wanted list. Police conducted a search for the parents after doctors discovered the baby had suffered a broken arm; the matter is being investigated as a possible case of bodily harm.
A brothel owned by a former Social Democrats regional boss received over CZK 5 million in state grants from ministries run by MPs for the party, the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes said on Thursday. Miroslav Mrština was the head of the Social Democrats in the Hradec Kralové region and was a member of the party’s leadership. His brothel in the town of Náchod is alleged to have received CZK 1.3 million from the Ministry of Regional Development when it was headed by Radko Martínek and a further CZK 4 million from the Labour Ministry under the helm of Zdeněk Škromach. The leadership of the Social Democrats have denied the charges, saying they may take legal action over the matter.
Radko Martínek is one of three Social Democrat MPs who have said they are giving up their seats in the Chamber of Deputies after being named regional governors. Michal Hašek and Martin Tesařík are also quitting the lower house, though David Rath – who is governor of Central Bohemia – is retaining his post as an MP.
Four Burmese families granted asylum by the Czech Republic have arrived in the country. The 16 Burmese citizens, including four children, were immediately taken to an integration centre in south Bohemia after landing in Prague on Thursday. The group, who were expelled from Burma, will join another 23 refugees from their country who arrived in the Czech Republic in October.
Six hundred types of toys were banned by the Czech Trade Inspectorate last year. The organisation’s Jana Příhodová told the radio station Impuls that in total over 90,000 toys and other products for children were seized in 2008. However, she said trade inspectorate had little success in tracking down the producers or importers of the faulty goods, especially if they were on sale at markets.
The Czech Republic’s footballers drew 0:0 with Morocco in a friendly in Casablanca on Wednesday night. In their first game of the year, the Czechs were outplayed by the hosts, who had the better of the chances. Their next match is a World Cup qualifier away to Slovenia at the end of March.
The CD Ikarus by Jaromír Nohavica has earned the folk singer a Czech Album of the Year award for the highest sales of 2008; it sold almost 35,000 copies. Nohavica was also named Singer of the Year, while the Czech branch of music industry body IFPI presented the women’s award to Lucie Vondráčková.
The next few days are expected to be cloudy with sunny spells and rain or snow at times. Temperatures should reach a maximum of 1 degree Celsius.