Monday, February 20, 2012

News 2.20.2012

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

News Monday, February 20th, 2012

By: Jan Velinger

* Czech President Vaclav Klaus has signed the country's new Civil Code
into law.

* Former municipal police president Vladimir Kotrous, suspected of
corruption, has been released from custody.

* Police wiretaps reportedly show that a woman pardoned by the
president last week was in repeated contact with his wife.

* A survey has revealed that the number of 16-year-olds in the Czech
Republic who drink alcohol on a regular basis has gone up.

* In the National Hockey League on Sunday, goalie Ondrej Pavelec
stopped 31 shots by the Colorado Avalanche in the Winnipeg Jets' 5-1

Civil Code signed into law

President Vaclav Klaus has signed the new Civil Code into law, his
spokesman Radim Ochvat said on Monday. The 3,000-paragraph bill will
take effect in 2014 and will introduce three basic spheres of private
law: family, ownership and contracts. The Justice Ministry has hailed
the new codex as ensuring better protection for the rights of citizens
and coming closer to modern European law, while shedding Communist-era
legislation; some critics on the political Left have countered that it
benefits owners and the wealthy. The approval of the new Civil Code was
ten years in the making and was one of the current government's top
priorities. The civil code currently in effect was first implemented in
1964 and, despite being updated since, failed to take into account all
areas of modern life.

Former police president released from custody

Prague's Municipal Court confirmed on Monday that the former head of
the Prague police, Vladimir Kotrous, facing trial for alleged
corruption, could be released from custody. The former official was
being held on the grounds he could try and influence witnesses. The
court upheld a decision by the district court for Prague 9 and rejected
an appeal by the state prosecutor. Mr Kotrous left Prague's Pankac
prison shortly before 1 pm but refused to talk to reporters. The
suspect is being investigated by the police for having accepted at
least one bribe; detectives from the country's anti-organised crime
taskforce suspect he received several million crowns in return for
awarding a multi-million-crown contract to a private firm. If found
guilty in the case, he could face up to 12 years in prison.

Daily: president's wife and pardoned woman were in regular contact

The Czech daily Lidove noviny has reported that police wiretaps show
that former Metropolitan University Prague director Anna Benesova -
convicted in 2011 of embezzlement, bribery and the abuse of trust (but
pardoned last week by President Vaclav Klaus) - spoke with the
president's wife Livia on a regular basis. The two reportedly
communicated over the phone so often that it raised suspicion among
investigators that a pardon would be granted, the daily said.

Last year Mrs Benesova received a two-year-suspended sentence and four
years probation by Prague's Municipal Court. The president's spokesman
said last week she had been granted a pardon over the need to care for
her husband, who is seriously ill - although her sentence had no effect
on her ability to provide assistance. President Klaus has said he was
unaware of his wife's relationship with the former university head and
has since offered an additional explanation for having granted
clemency, suggesting that the former university director had been
"through enough".

Dienstbier warns Czech judiciary threatened

Senator Jiri Dienstbier, a possible candidate for president backed by
the opposition Social Democratic Party, has held a press conference in
Prague in which he expressed the worry that positive changes in the
country's court and state attorney's offices could be threatened by the
return of Vlastimil Rampula as the head of Prague's High State
Attorney's Office. Mr Dienstbier, a deputy chairman of his party as
well as shadow justice minister, took the opportunity to react to a
decision by Prague's Municipal Court to scrap Mr Rampula's dismissal
last year by Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil. The Social Democrat
charged that the situation threatened the Czech judiciary's
effectiveness and trustworthiness. According to Mr Dienstbier, the
developments are connected to a plot for the post to by filled by
someone close to Czech president Vaclav Klaus, and he referred also to
increasing speculation that the Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil himself
could be fired. Last year, the Czech branch of Transparency
International called Mr Rampula's dismissal a "necessary" step to
restore public trust in the state attorney��s office.

Number of 16-year-old drinkers on rise

ESPAD - the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs -
has revealed that the number of sixteen-year-olds in the Czech Republic
who drink alcohol on a regular basis has gone up. Back in 1995, 14
percent of the country's 16-year-olds drank at least three times a
month, but last year the percentage moved up to 20. Twenty-five percent
of the underage drinkers drank beer six times a month or more and 15
percent consumed spirits.

The study, released on Monday, also revealed that for the first time in
several years marijuana use among students has decreased. But cigarette
smoking has not changed: a quarter of sixteen-year-old students smoke
on a daily basis. The European School Survey Project has been conducted
since 1995, repeated every four years. In the Czech Republic 3,916
students (in either grade nine at elementary schools or in their first
year at secondary school) took part, representing a total of 360

Demonstrations, events planned to protest higher education reform plans

Student representatives have announced they will hold a week of
demonstrations beginning on Monday of next week to protest the
government's planned reforms of the higher education system. Members of
the student body of the Academic Senate made the announcement on
Monday, saying that 18 schools from eight cities and towns would take
part. Next Wednesday will see a planned march to the seat of the
government from Prague's Palach Square, as well as public discussions
throughout the week. Demonstrators want to pressure the government not
to approve two bills, one regulating tuitions and student loans, the
other introducing a new leadership body - which critics fear will open
the door for greater influence by the private sector, negatively
impacting academic freedoms.

Homeless man sentenced to eight years in prison

The regional court in Zlin on Monday sentenced 39-year-old Zdenek
Knapek to eight years in prison for the murder of a 58-year-old
acquaintance. The men - both homeless - fought last September after
drinking at an abandoned site in Kromeriz; the victim was struck in the
head and died two days later in hospital, after suffering internal
bleeding. In court Mr Knapek expressed regret for his deed; he had
faced up to 16 years in jail.

Woman dies in burning vehicle

A woman was killed in a car accident near the Central Bohemian town of
Rakovnik in the early hours of Monday. Another three people were
injured in the accident, which happened when the 40-year-old driver
lost control of the vehicle due to the uneven surface of the road and
crashed into a tree. A police spokeswoman said that the car caught fire
and the woman could not be rescued from the flames. The driver and two
other passengers are currently being treated at hospital.

Prague Black Sabbath concert downgraded to "Ozzy & Friends"

A reunion concert by legendary heavy metal band Black Sabbath,
scheduled for June 6th in Prague will go ahead under the new banner of
"Ozzy and Friends", Petr Novak of Live Nation has told the CTK news
agency. The original band had to cancel summer dates because of
guitarist and original founder Tony Iommi's recent diagnosis of
early-stage lymphoma; he will be undergoing treatment. Frontman Ozzy
Osbourne and guests, including Black Sabbath's Geezer Butler and fellow
musician Zack Wylde have confirmed participation and will play a
special Black Sabbath set in support Mr Iommi. Black Sabbath had
planned a full reunion tour and have also been working on a new album.
Anyone wishing to return their Prague ticket would receive a refund,
Live Nation's Petr Novak said.

NHL action: Pavelec turns away 31-shots by Colorado

In NHL action on Sunday, goalie Ondrej Pavelec stopped 31 shots by the
Colorado Avalanche to help the Winnipeg Jets to a 5-1 win. Pavelec was
named the game's second star. Winnipeg is now tied at 64 points with
the Toronto Maple Leafs (in eighth spot in the Eastern Conference); the
eighth spot is the conference cut-off for the playoffs in May. In other
hockey action, Patrik Elias and Petr Sykora both earned assists in New
Jersey's 3-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.


The start of the week has seen milder conditions, with partially
overcast skies and daytime highs of around 3 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

Jan Kaplan: Operation Anthropoid more appreciated as years go by

As part of an exhibition linked to the 70th anniversary of the Lidice
massacre in June, Prague's Dox Centre for Contemporary Art is currently
hosting a video installation by the London-based Czech documentary
maker and editor Jan Kaplan entitled 10:35. The name refers to the time
of day that the operation to assassinate the Nazi governor of Bohemia
and Moravia - which preceded the Lidice atrocity - reached its climax
in a Prague suburb on May 27, 1942. The UK-based Czechoslovak
paratroopers who carried out the attack later met their deaths in a
church in the city.

Prague and London launch initiative to deepen common European market

The Czech Republic and Britain, who both decided to stay out of the
EU's fiscal discipline pact, are preparing to launch an initiative of
their own: one aimed at deepening the common market. Prague says that
this is the real key to economic growth at a time when the alliance
needs to boost its flagging economy.

Sports News 20.2.2012

In this weeks sports news, spectator scuffles stop play in a weekend
Gambrinus Liga match; Czech long-distance speed-skater Martina
Sablikova wins silver in Moscow; the Czech paralympic movement settles
a long-running internal dispute and ice-hockey sensation Jaromir Jagr's
many millions.

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