Daily news summary News

15-03-2011

State prosecutor says police erred in Czech TV raid

The state prosecutor, Jana Hercegova, says the military police erred in the handling of its raid on Czech Television last Friday, having seized even material that was not related to its aim. The police, she said, must return the material that does not concern endangered classified information. Ms Hercegova said she her subordinate, state attorney Vladimir Muzik, was justified in issuing the warrant for the search. On March 11 some ten military police officers, masked and with automatic rifles, stormed the public television building in search of a military intelligence file regarding the controversial departure of Miroslav Krejcik as head of military intelligence a few years ago.

Army planes evacuate Czech Philharmonic from Japan

The Czech army sent two aircraft to Japan on Tuesday in order to evacuate Czech citizens who want to leave the country following Friday’s earthquake and tsunami. Among those set to return are 106 members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra, which is on an annual tour in the country that was intended to wrap up on March 20. On March 18 the orchestra was to play in Sendai, a port town that has been devastated by the tsunami, and on the next day in Kawasaki, where the roof of the concert hall was destroyed. The orchestra’s director David Mareček said the group was moved from Tokyo to Kanazawa in western Japan due to the radiation leak at the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Sazka suspends lottery activities

Indebted betting company Sazka has suspended its lottery activities in order to prevent further liabilities and damages. The suspension is to last until insolvency proceedings rule on a credit contract that would provide the company with sufficient funds to halt a loss of liquidity and end the proceedings. The company is currently paying out winnings of up to 500,000 and says winners of larger amounts are covered by a principal deposited with the Ministry of Finance. The company does not have the money to pay its jackpot and is in debt to mobile service providers. A general meeting of company shareholders on Tuesday voted against dismissing the directors and changing the charter to allow for a strategic investor.

Rare Drtikol photograph stolen from museum

A rare photograph was stolen from Prague’s Museum of Industrial Art at the weekend by an unknown thief. The photograph, and black-and-white nude called Wave by internationally renowned photographer František Drtikol, was found missing from a permanent exhibition on Monday morning. The museum says that the photograph has been assessed for insurance purposes at 1.2 million crowns, but that its artistic value was incalculable. František Drtikol’s work sells at auction for more than that of any other Czech photographer.

BIS asks for power to demand caller information from operators

The National intelligence agency, BIS, has asked the government to demand that electronic communications operators provide them with database information regarding call lengths, telephone numbers and locations of callers. The agency has prepared a one-sentence legal amendment for this purpose that has been submitted to the government for discussion. At present the intelligence agency is authorised by law to acquire such information through wiretapping and recording messages; there is however no obligation on the part of the providers to fulfil such demands.

Social Democrats will push for key amendments to austerity package

The opposition Social Democratic Party intends to propose amendments to what it considers the most problematic parts of the government’s austerity package when it comes back through Parliament, acting party chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said Tuesday. The points in question, he says, are restricted social benefits for families with children and decreased unemployment benefits for people who quit their jobs or agree to leave. The Constitutional Court on Monday forced the government’s wide-ranging austerity package back to Parliament for re-passage due to the way it was originally fast-tracked, however it remains in effect until the end of the year.

Lower house blacklists 33 synthetic drugs

The Chamber of Deputies has unanimously passed a bill adding 33 synthetic drugs to the list of banned substances. The amendment passed in its first reading and will now go on to the Senate. A number of the substances were recently banned in Poland, leading to a huge increase in their sale in the Czech Republic where they remained legal. Proponents of the bill also want the list of blacklisted drugs to be removed from the law altogether and put under the jurisdiction of the government, which will be able to add other drugs in the future as the need arises.

Survey: public lacks confidence in government

More than two-thirds of Czechs say they do not trust the coalition government, according to a poll carried out by the SANEP agency. According to the survey, people are bothered not only by the government’s reform policies but also by scandals involving certain cabinet members. More than 75% of respondents said that such affairs cast doubt on the anti-corruption programme that is one of the government’s main priorities. Of the issues considered scandals, the survey suggests that people are most concerned with the ProMoPro affair involving Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra; two-thirds of respondents said he should resign over the issue. Roughly 69% said that Prime Minister Petr Nečas is not strong enough to effectively implement the anticorruption measures.

Havel film sees first screening

Leaving, the first film directed by playwright and former Czech president Václav Havel, say a pre-premiere in Prague on Monday, even though Mr Havel himself remains in hospital. Jaroslav Bouček, the film's producer, told journalists at the screening that he had spoken with Mr Havel who sent his best wishes. The 74-year-old was admitted to a hospital in Prague last Tuesday suffering from acute bronchitis. Doctors have described his condition as "stable". The film by the former dissident turned president focuses on the final days of one man’s political career: a politician who sees his world collapse amidst treachery from a conniving successor. The work was reportedly inspired in part by William Shakespeare’s King Lear and Anton Chekhov's The Cherry Orchard. The film version premieres in Czech cinemas on March 24.

Traffic officer arrested for blackmail

The police inspectorate has arrested a Prague traffic officer suspected of blackmailing an offender. The inspectorate reported on Tuesday that the officer had told a man involved in a traffic accident that he had tested positive for drug use, and that he would negate the result in exchange for 100,000 crowns. The officer was arrested immediately after accepting the money from the man at a police station. If convicted he faces up to four years’ imprisonment for abuse of a public office.

Weather

Currently sunny conditions are expected to sour over the coming days with a chance of rain on Wednesday and daytime highs of around 13° Celsius.

15-03-2011