The Czech EU presidency has slammed the execution of a young woman in Iran, urging the country to end the practice of handing out death sentences for crimes committed by juveniles. Twenty-three-year-old Delara Darabi was executed on Friday morning without her family’s or her lawyer’s knowledge for a crime she committed as a minor. A court sentenced her to death at the age of 17 after finding her guilty of murdering her father’s cousin. Human rights groups have repeatedly criticized Iran for sentencing minors to death. Iran says it is following sharia law and only carries out the death penalty when a prisoner reaches the age of 18.
The Czech health authorities have so far ruled out 14 cases of suspected swine flu, twenty-seven more people are currently being tested. More cases are expected to emerge on Sunday with 180 Czech tourists due to return from Mexico. The authorities have tightened security measures at Prague’s Ruzyně Airport and people returning from Mexico will have to undergo thermal screening before being allowed to enter the country. Czech doctors currently have two million anti-viral drugs at their disposal, enough to treat a fifth of the population.
Further talks are expected on the line-up of the country’s caretaker cabinet after prime minister designate Jan Fischer broke with a party agreement and proposed three candidates of his own choosing. The leaders of the two strongest parties the Civic and Social Democrats, who proposed Mr. Fischer for the post and expected to fill the respective ministerial posts with their own candidates, have both said they find the proposed line-up unacceptable and have ruled out support for it in the lower house. Mr. Fischer has said he is willing to discuss the matter.
President Klaus who was acquainted with Mr. Fischer’s proposal on Friday has not commented on the situation. Analysts point out that under the Czech Constitution Mr. Klaus is now bound to appoint Mr. Fischer’s cabinet even if it lacks majority support in the lower house. The interim prime minister would then have thirty days in which to ask Parliament for a vote of confidence and he would remain in office even if he did not get it –ruling “in resignation” until the president decided to name a new prime minister designate or until early elections.
The Fisher cabinet was expected to take over on May 8th and lead the country to early elections in October. It is not clear if this unexpected hurdle will delay its appointment.
Outgoing Prime Minister Mirek Topolánek has said he hopes to regain his post after early elections in October. In an interview for the daily Pravo, Mr. Topolánek said he wanted to return to office and hoped his Civic Democrats would win enough votes to make a come-back. Topolánek's centre-right government fell in a no-confidence vote last month, halfway through the country’s European Union presidency. In the latest opinion poll from the CVVM agency Topolánek's Civic Democratic Party trailed the opposition Social Democrats 31.5 to 36.0 percent.
The Czech EU presidency has said it wants to tackle the overuse of antibiotics in many EU member states. Countries which overuse antibiotics such as the Czech Republic, France, Spain or Italy are creating serious problems for the world at large because antibiotics are fast loosing their effectiveness and there is nothing to replace them with to cure bacterial infections. Czech experts say that the growing resistance of bacteria to antibiotics among patients is alarming. In the Czech Republic alone antibiotics to the tune of one billion crowns are prescribed without good reason. The problem is most widespread in hospitals. On the other hand countries such as Scandinavia or the Netherlands could serve as role models.
Czechs are unable to buy flu medication in pharmacies across the country after a new computer system collapsed in trial operation. In line with a new amendment to the law which took effect on May 1st, flu medicine containing pseudoefedrine such as Coldrex or Stopgrip, is no longer available freely over the counter and will only be sold to people in small amounts on the basis of a health insurance card and ID. The move is an attempt to curb abuse of the substance in the production of the illegal street drug pervitin.
However the new law has created a few problems. It involves putting personal data into a central evidence system and some pharmacies will not be selling flu medicine at all for fear of violating the privacy law. The matter is being investigated by the Office for Protection of Private Data.
Prague’s Motol hospital is working on a new vaccine that may be able to halt cancer-growth, the daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Saturday. The vaccine can be used to treat melanoma, leukaemia, cancer of the bowel and ovaries and does not have negative side-effects such as chemotherapy, the paper writes. The vaccine must be tailor-made for each patient from his own cells and tumour. Czech immunologists have been working on the vaccine for ten years and have now requested clinical tests. The prestigious medical journal Clinical Immunology has published a report on the discovery.
The organizers of a techno-party near the town of Květná, western Bohemia, have been ordered to end the event by 8pm on Saturday. The three day party attended by 5,000 people is the biggest event of its kind ever held in the area and the locals have been complaining about excessive noise. A hygiene officer called in by the police to measure noise levels in the nearby town concluded that the noise pollution levels were way off limits.
The next few days are expected to be partly cloudy with intervals of rain and shine and day temperatures between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius.