Thursday, February 16, 2012

News 2.16.2012

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Copyright (c) 2012 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Thursday, February 16th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* Prime Minister Petr Necas is to meet with his British counterpart
David Cameron in London just ahead of the EU fiscal pact summit on
March 1.

* Heavy snow and high winds continue to disrupt traffic around the
country.

* The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Czech investigators
made mistakes in the case of a Roma man who apparently committed
suicide while in custody.

* The committee seeking a candidate to direct the Prague transit
authority has been cancelled due to an information leak.

* The family of painter Alphonse Mucha is preparing a concept for the
permanent placement of the Slav Epic in the main train station in
Prague.

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Necas to meet with Cameron in London ahead of EU fiscal pact summit
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Prime Minister Petr Necas is to meet with his British counterpart David
Cameron in London just ahead of the EU fiscal pact summit on March 1.
It is expected the prime ministers are will fine tune their stances
before the EU countries sign a final version of the fiscal union
treaty. The Czech Republic and Great Britain are the only EU member
states to refuse to join the treaty, which is intended to help solve
the current euro zone crisis and strengthen the fiscal discipline and
coordination of economic policies within the EU. The Czech Prime
Minister's opposition to the deal has provoked a sharp dispute with
coalition partner Karel Schwarzenberg and has been widely criticised in
the public forum. Mr Necas argues that he does not have a mandate to
back the treaty because it transfers some national powers to Brussels,
and wants Czech citizens to vote on it in a referendum.


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Heavy snow and high winds causing serious traffic problems
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Heavy snow and high winds continue to disrupt traffic around the
country, with practically all regions reporting serious problems.
Around 30 people had to be evacuated from their cars by emergency crews
overnight and 50 roads remained closed to traffic on Thursday morning.
Czech Railways reports numerous delays and many buses are also running
behind schedule. Although the country's main motorways are open traffic
police have asked drivers not to set out on the road if at all possible
since fresh problems are cropping up all the time. Many roads are
blocked by stranded trucks and traffic is moving at snail's pace in the
worst affected regions. On Wednesday a pile up of 50 cars closed the
main highway from Prague to Brno for several hours.


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Human rights court rules against Czech police in detainee's death
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The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Czech investigators
made mistakes in the case of a Roma man who apparently committed
suicide while in custody. The court awarded roughly half a million
crowns to the man's family in compensation for damages, on the grounds
that his death was never thoroughly and independently investigated. The
2002 case involved a 23-year-old Roma man suspected of having stolen a
videotape recorder. After several hours in detention he leapt from an
eight-metre high window while being escorted. Lawyers from the League
of Human Rights argued that the investigation had been carried out by
the same police officers who had the man in custody and failed to
describe what had gone on during the six hours he was detained. The
European court found that he police had erred in not using handcuffs
and leading the man past a window without bars.


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Selection of Prague transit director stalled by information leak
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The selection committee seeking a candidate to direct the Prague
transit authority has been cancelled due to an information leak. Mayor
Bohuslav Svoboda told the daily Pravo that he was called at 2 a.m. by
journalists who knew who was winning the tender at what price, despite
the committee's decision having been in a sealed envelope. Mr Svoboda,
who heads the committee, added that it would not be possible to choose
a director amid such pressure from the media and all sides. The Prague
Public Transport Company received nine offers from personnel agencies
to provide a director and had narrowed its choice down to two.


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Svoboda: Transit authority will undergo massive audit of suspect
contracts
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In related news, Mayor Svoboda has announced that the city's transit
authority will have to undergo an massive audit in order to check all
of the commissions and contracts in which corruption is suspected. The
sale and printing of tickets will also be checked. He said he is aware
that the word audit is used ever more frequently to replace a real
solution or win time, but that it was the only way to truly find out
what was going on the Prague Public Transport Company. Interim director
Magdalena Ceskova says her priorities are securing the lowest possible
prices and the greatest transparency in new tenders. She also wants new
rules on making orders and a new tender for ticket printing and IT
services.


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Heger: anti-corruption measures have saved over a billion
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Health Minister Leos Heger has told the daily Pravo that the
anti-corruption measures he ordered for the organisations he manages
directly have brought savings of more than a billion crowns. The health
minister said that teaching hospitals in particular have shown reduced
costs for medical materials and medicines. He added that the health
care facilities he manages had shown an economic result of nearly half
a billion in spite of the poor economic climate and increases of
doctors' salaraies of 5 to 8,000 crowns. The president of the Czech
doctors' chamber, Milan Kubek, says he is unimpressed by the measures,
which in his opinion have not brought more accountability in health
business matters.


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Mucha family proposing Main Station home for Slav Epic
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The family of painter Alphonse Mucha is preparing a concept for the
permanent placement of the Slav Epic in the main train station in
Prague. The family's foundation plans to submit the technical and
visual plans for a building that they say will be nearly identical to
the painter's own plan to the City Hall in March. Grandson John Mucha
says a part of the family has agreed the idea with the municipal
government and the Italian development company responsible for renewing
the Art Nouveau station. The twenty canvasses of the masterpiece are
currently in a Prague depository, after the city gallery had them moved
from Moravsky Krumlov last year.


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Experts estimate there as many illegal as legal foreigners in the
country
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The number of foreigners residing illegally in the Czech Republic could
be as many as 400,000, or nearly the same as the number of legal
foreign residents. The estimate was provided by migration experts from
Charles University attending an international conference on
immigrations trends in Prague. They say immigration to the country is
predicated not only by the Czech Republic's economic strength but also
by the migration policy, which since the 1990S has shifted from
"liberal, to restrictive, to restrictive-integrative", in the words of
one of the sociologists present. The influx of foreigners however has
been stalled since 2008 by the economic crisis, she added.


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Special life sentence given to repeat murderer
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The District Court of Plzen has given a special life sentence to a man
convicted of murder for the second time. According to court documents,
the man stabbed his 57-year-old flatmate to death in the summer of last
year when she demanded he move out after failing to pay rent for
several months. He then stayed in the flat and spent several days by
the body, lighting candles and leaving offerings of wine and
cigarettes. The man had already spent 11 years in prison for murdering
another flatmate with a hammer in 1994.


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Police charge two for affixing scanners to ATM machines
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Police have charged two Bulgarian nationals who they suspect of having
affixed scanning equipment to ATM machines in Prague in order to steal
card information and thereby money. Investigators believe they were
successful in three cases and attained around 30,000 crowns, however
the data they acquired may have given them access to millions. If
convicted of credit card fraud they will face up to eight years in
prison.


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Weather
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Conditions over the coming days are expected to be mostly cloudy to
cloudy with more snow showers around the country and daytime
temperatures slightly above the freezing point.

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Articles posted on www.radio.cz today
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A long-forgotten story of survival from WWII comes to light
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A black and white photograph of a smiling Jewish girl unearthed in a
photographer's studio some years ago has led a young Czech journalist
to piece together the dramatic story of a large group of Jewish
children who were smuggled to Denmark to escape the Holocaust. While
the story of the Nicolas Winton children is well known, this one is
only just coming to light and will hopefully reunite long-lost friends
scattered around the globe. The freelance journalist who is
singlehandedly tackling the task is Judita Matyasova whom I invited to
the studio. She began by telling me how it all came about.

http://radio.cz/en/section/panorama/a-long-forgotten-story-of-survival-from-wwii-comes-to-light


Government moves to give crime victims more support and greater
protection
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Being a crime victim can be a shattering experience and many who have
personally experienced it say that reporting the incident and the
investigation that follows can be equally agonizing. At the present
time there is no code of conduct specifying how the police or state
attorneys should treat crime victims and critics say their conduct
often leaves much to be desired. The Czech government has now moved to
correct that approving an amendment to the law which would give crime
victims more support and greater protection.

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/government-moves-to-give-crime-victims-more-support-and-greater-protection


Corruption joins Czech landmarks in satirical tourist campaign
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Critics may say that the Czech government is doing practically nothing
to address the country's high levels of corruption - the Czech Republic
rates 57th out of 182 in Transparency International's 2011 Corruption
Perceptions Index, four places lower than 2010's 53rd place - but that
hasn't stopped other entrepreneurial figures from stepping in to fill
the vacuum. Interested in seeing the top spots for "tunneling", murky,
hidden centres of power or finding some of the buildings that have
resulted from alleged shady deals? Then Corrupt Tour may be what you're
after! They are promising to show "The Best of the Worst" as their
motto puts it, their website adding that they are striving to open up
an entirely new field of tourism. Or is it just all a new way to shame
the country's politicians?

http://radio.cz/en/section/curraffrs/corruption-joins-czech-landmarks-in-satirical-tourist-campaign


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