Daily news summary News

08-01-2014

Government rejects civil service bill

The outgoing Czech government on Wednesday rejected a civil service bill put forth by the Social Democrats. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok said the draft legislation could not be implemented as some of its provisions were likely in contradiction to the Constitution. In a reaction, Social Democrat chairman Bohuslav Sobotka said the bill was carefully designed, and expressed hope the legislation would be approved by the lower house.

The adoption of a civil service act might be crucial for the appointment of the new government as it would allow leader of one of the coalition parties, Andrej Babiš, hold a ministerial position despite being listed as a collaborator of the communist secret police.

President Zeman to address political situation on Friday

President Miloš Zeman will address the political situation in the Czech Republic in a news conference on Friday, ahead of a planned meeting with Social Democrat leader and likely next prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, the president’s office said in a statement. Mr Sobotka is to formally present the president with the coalition agreement reached by the Social Democrats, ANO and Christian Democrats, as well as with a list of cabinet nominees. The president’s office has not revealed details of Mr Zeman’s news conference but the president is expected to voice his objections to a number of ministerial candidates.

Dismissed police chief to contest his sacking

The dismissed police chief, Martin Červíček believes his sacking by the interior minister was unlawful, and he will contest it, Mr Červíček told reporters on Wednesday. The police president was sacked on Tuesday after his predecessor, Petr Lessy, was cleared of charges of abuse of power and returned to the post. Mr Červíček however said the official reason given by the outgoing interior minister was only a pretext while the real grounds for his sacking was a clash with the minister over how the police’s anti-corruption unit should be run.

Czech TV’s regulator rejects censorship complaint

The supervisory body of the public broadcaster Czech TV on Wednesday rejected a complaint by some of the station’s reporters over alleged censorship. The reporters complained that Czech TV’s news coverage was distorted in favour of Miloš Zeman during the presidential election last year, a process which allegedly continued even after Zeman was elected president. The supervisory body said however, the coverage was objective, did not breach the law and no interference by the station’s managers could be confirmed.

Three People in Need employees killed in Syria

Three workers with the Czech NGO People in Need have been killed in Syria, a spokesman for the organisation said. The locally recruited employees died in artillery shelling of the city of Aleppo in the north of the country. Two other members of the People in Need team suffered injuries. The humanitarian and human rights NGO said the attack was arbitrary and was not directed against their employees. The head of People in Need, Šimon Pánek, expressed sympathy for the families but said the NGO would continue working in Syria.

Press: Move by Benešová could help businessman in asset-stripping case

The outgoing minister of justice, Marie Benešová, has taken a step that could help influential businessman Pavel Tykač avoid prosecution in connection with an alleged case of large-scale asset stripping, the daily Právo reported on Wednesday. Minister Benešová sent a complaint to the Supreme Court in December saying that a lower court had reopened the prosecution of Mr. Tykač without familiarising itself with expert opinions casting doubt on witnesses who gave evidence against him. If the court upholds her complaint, the case against the businessman will be closed for good. He is accused of “tunneling” CZK 1.23 billion from CS Fondy in the 1990s.

University rectors oppose proposal that professors should be appointed by Senate speaker

Czech university rectors have rejected a proposal that professors should be appointed by the speaker of the Senate. The idea surfaced at a meeting of President Miloš Zeman with the upper house speaker, Milan Štěch, on Tuesday. The rectors said it would be in breach of the Czech university act. The outgoing government is set to discuss the issue on Wednesday, with the cabinet in favour of handing the powers to the education minister, according to the Czech News Agency.

Until last year, professors were appointed by the president. However, Mr Zeman objected to the system when he refused to appoint one of his critics as professor. The president and the education minister then reached a deal under which the authority to appoint professors would be transferred to the minister.

Palestinian ambassador killed in Prague safe explosion buried in Ramallah

The late Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic, Jamal Muhammad Jamal who was killed last week in an explosion at the embassy’s new building, was buried on the outskirts of Ramallah in the West Bank on Wednesday. The explosion occurred after Mr Jamal opened a safe in the building; the police later found unregistered firearms. The case is under investigation by Czech police and a team of Palestinian investigators.

Egyptian authorities conclude investigation into deaths of two Czech tourists

The authorities in Egypt have concluded an investigation into the deaths of two Czech tourists who died of poisoning in the Hurgada resort last summer, a spokeswoman for the Czech Foreign Ministry said. The result of the investigation is not clear, according to the ministry, which is yet to receive an official report on the case. A 36-year-old woman and her eight-year-old daughter were found dead by the father of the family in their hotel room last July. The man was held in Egypt for several months but was released and returned to the Czech Republic in October.

Prague 6 planning statue of Maria Theresa

The authorities in Prague 6 are planning to have a statute erected to the 18th century Habsburg empress Maria Theresa, who was also the queen of Bohemia. A spokesperson for the local town hall said it had issued a tender for the statue, which would stand in a new park located between the street Milady Horákové and the bastions of Prague Castle. Prague 6 has also launched a tender process for a sculpture of Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, the wife of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, who was from Bohemia.

Tennis: Kvitová reaches semifinal at Sydney International

Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová has reached the semifinal of the Sydney International tournament after she beat another Czech, Lucie Šafářová, 7-6, 6-2 on Wednesday. In the men’s singles in Sydney, Radek Štěpánek defeated Spain’s Alberto Ramos 6-2, 7-6 to book a spot in the quarterfinals of the event, held a week ahead of the Australian Open. Its organizers announced seedings for the season-opening Grand Slam tournament on Wednesday; Kvitová has been seeded sixth and Tomáš Berdych seventh.

Weather

The coming days will be rather warm, with mostly overcast skies, occasional rain, and daytime highs ranging between 8 and 12 degrees Celsius.

08-01-2014