Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

23-09-2003

No-confidence vote set for Friday

It has been announced that this Friday shall see members of the Czech lower house take part in a vote of no-confidence - called for by the opposition Civic Democrats in an attempt to bring down the country's coalition government. Voting will begin at 9 a.m. In all, all 58 Civic Democrat MPs signed the appeal for a vote of no-confidence - eight more than the 50 signatures required. It will be the second such test faced by the government this year: earlier in March Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla called for a confidence vote that the government passed through its one-vote majority. Government officials believe that the coalition will hold this time around as well. The opposition currently has only 98 deputies - one MP is in hospital. That means the opposition would have to gain three renegade votes from within the ruling coalition itself.

Lower house overturns presidential veto on VAT amendment

The lower house has overturned a presidential veto on a bill amendment raising the VAT on some goods and services. President Vaclav Klaus originally vetoed the bill in July, earning criticism from some politicians but also praise from entrepreneurs. Nevertheless, the passing of the amendment Tuesday and the raising of the VAT are seen as a crucial step within the government's planned fiscal reforms, as well as a key step towards passing the state budget for next year. As of January the amendment will raise the VAT on some goods and services from 5 to 22 percent. The raise is expected to bring an additional 13 billion crowns to state coffers, with an added 4 billion going to regions and districts. Services that will be affected by the hike will include the use of fixed-line telephones and the internet.

Freedom Union MP Hana Marvanova gives up mandate, is replaced by Vrbik

As expected, Freedom Union MP Hana Marvanova has officially given up her seat in the lower house. House speaker Lubomir Zaoralek's advisor revealed the information to the Czech news agency CTK on Tuesday. Ms Marvanova chose to give up her mandate after giving birth last week, coming to the conclusion it would no longer be possible for her to balance her parliamentary role with care for her baby. The charismatic but sometimes controversial MP has been replaced by Freedom Union member Tomas Vrbik. Like Hana Marvanova, Mr Vrbik has been critical of his party's current role within the country's coalition government. On the other hand, Mr Vrbik indicated in an interview on Monday he had no intention of going against the grain on his own, saying, for instance, he would support the government's planned fiscal reforms - providing the coalition supported the package as a whole.

Court again adjourns hearing in David Pecha trial

A hearing in the trial of David Pecha, the 26-year-old communist "firebrand" charged with promoting communism, scare-mongering and libel, has once again been adjourned at a district court in Sumperk, in Moravia, after the defendant insisted the court question a former member of the communist secret police on Tuesday. The former agent - Ludvik Zifcak - had failed to turn up in court. Meanwhile on Tuesday, the court heard views from forensics experts who testified Mr Pecha was motivated in his behaviour through deep convictions in the apparent correctness of communist ideology. Mr Pecha's case marks the first time a left-wing extremist has been prosecuted for propagating an undemocratic movement in the Czech Republic. The state attorney has charged Pecha with promoting movements aimed at suppressing people's rights and freedoms through articles he wrote for a left-wing magazine.

Prague high court confirms exemplary sentence for murder of Chinese couple

A Prague high court has confirmed an exemplary sentence for the murder of a Chinese couple that took place in Prague in 2001. Of the four involved in the double-murder one received a 20-year sentence, two 15 years in jail, and the last 13 years. The motive for the murder was allegedly unpaid gambling debts. However, police were never able to discover who ordered the crime. The gang forced their way into the couple's apartment - the victims were strangled on site.

Weather

Wednesday is expected to be partly cloudy with a chance of showers and daytime temperatures cooling from recent days to just 15 degrees Celsius.

23-09-2003