State prosecutor Josef Blaha has dropped all charges against two men taken into custody earlier this month for having allegedly attempted to bribe MP Zdenek Koristka of the Freedom Union, a junior government coalition party, to help bring down the government in a vote of confidence. The charges against the two — Jan Vecerek, a lobbyist, and Marek Dalik, an adviser to the leader of the main opposition Civic Democratic Party — were dropped due to a lack of evidence. On Friday, the state prosecutor assigned to the politically charged case, Martin Fras, was relieved of his related responsibilities, for refusing to drop the charges as directed by a superior. The Civic Democrat leader, Mirek Topolanek, who now refuses to discuss the case publicly, had said that he merely sent Mr Dalik to find out how Mr Koristka was intending to vote and that Mr Vecerek facilitated the meeting.
Although the charges against the two men have been dropped, the police investigation into what the media is calling the 'Koristka affair' will continue. The Freedom Union MP, who agreed to a polygraph, or 'lie detector' test, claimed he was offered the equivalent of 300,000 euros and the post of Czech ambassador to Bulgaria to vote against the government coalition of which his party is a member.
The Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Zdenek Skromach, said at a conference on Monday marking 80 years of state social insurance, that a Czech working group of experts has prepared four possible versions for pension reform, and that if politicians can agree on a version by July, implementing pension reform would be possible within two years' time. About 9 percent of the Czech Republic's GDP now goes towards pensions, a ministry expert told the conference, but could reach the unsustainable level of 15 percent or more within a couple of generations if widespread reforms are not introduced in the pension and health insurance systems.
Former Czech president Vaclav Havel opened the eighth successive Forum 2000 international conference in Prague on Sunday, with a speech celebrating a vibrant civil society as a guarantor of diversity. Speakers at this year's Forum 2000 conference, which continues until Wednesday and focuses on the role of civil society and globalization, include John Shattuck, the former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, and Jeremy Hobbs, the executive director of Oxfam, an international development and anti-poverty group.
Six more children have been diagnosed with salmonella since the outbreak of food poisoning began two weeks ago in the southeastern Bohemian region of Jihlava. About 60 pre-school and elementary school age children, as well as several adults, have been treated to date. State hygiene experts have yet to trace back the source of the salmonella.
The Czech Republic's Nicole Vaidisova, age 15, won the Tashkent Open on Monday. The unseeded teenager claimed her second WTA title with a 5-7 6-3 6-2 win over French ninth seed Virgine Razzai. Miss Vaidisova, who was 103rd in WTA rankings ahead of this victory, had only won a single WTA title in her tennis career - in Vancouver, earlier this year.
More rain is due on Tuesday throughout the country, with daytime highs of 17 degrees Celsius.
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Screenshot: a hybrid English-friendly Prague art-house cinema where screenings are events