Tuesday, February 21, 2012

News 2.21.2012

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

News Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* A Czech MEP who was sent to ascertain the condition of jailed
Ukrainian opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko has said there is reason
for concern.

* Newly-elevated Cardinal Dominik Duka has returned to Prague.

* The security committee of the lower house is holding a special
session on the functioning of the High State Attorney's Office in

* The victim of a judicial error is demanding 35 million crowns in

* Economist Jan Svejnar, whom the Social Democrats are considering
fielding as their candidate for the post of president, has said he is
not yet certain he wants to enter the race.

Czech MEP says Tymoshenko not getting medical attention

The jailed former prime minister of Ukraine Yulia Tymoshenko failed to
receive adequate medical care in prison and her condition is serious,
Czech MEP Zuzana Roitova told the CTK news agency by phone from Kiev on
Tuesday. MEP Roitova, a former Czech health minister, was sent to Kiev
to prepare a report on Yulia Tymoshenko's condition for the European
Parliament. Ms. Roitova said she had been allowed to study the
opposition leader's medical records, though was not allowed to meet
with her in person. The MEP said that the medical records clearly show
that the findings in the area of the lumbar spine are so serious that a
decision should have been made on possible surgery. She said that
instead of treating her the prison authorities had taken away
Tymoshenko's crutches, halted administering pain-killers and subjected
her to long sessions of interrogation. Roitova also noted that she
considers substantiated her family's fears she was being exposed to
toxic substances in order to make her fold under pressure.

Cardinal Dominik Duka arrives back in Prague

The Archbishop of Prague Dominik Duka, newly elevated to the post of
cardinal in a ceremony at the Vatican on Saturday, returned to Prague
on Tuesday. The cardinal headed straight for St. Vitus' Cathedral where
he bowed to the relics of Saint Adalbert and knelt for a few minutes in
silent prayer. He was then received by President Vaclav Klaus who said
Dominik Duka's appointment to the post of cardinal was confirmation of
the good work of the Czech Catholic Church in upholding basic Christian
values in present-day Czech society. Alongside his predecessor, former
Prague archbishop Miloslav Vlk, Dominik Duka is the country's second
living cardinal.

Security Committee meeting over state attorney rift

The Security Committee of the lower house is holding a special session
on the functioning of the High State Attorney's Office in Prague. The
session, called by the head of the security committee Radek John, of
Public Affairs, was called to throw more light on an in-depth audit
ordered by the provisional head of the High State Attorney's Office in
Prague Stanislav Mecl. However critics say that the real reason for the
meeting is the politicization of a rift between the Supreme State
Attorney's Office and the High State Attorney's Office in Prague.

Relations between the two institutions are strained in the wake of a
court ruling last week which effectively reinstated Vlastimil Rampula
-whom the Supreme State Attorney had accused of sweeping corruption
cases involving politicians under the carpet - to his post at the head
of the Prague High State Attorney's Office.

Prague Municipal Court says Rampula's dismissal was not justified

In related news, the Prague Municipal Court, which on Tuesday made
available the full text of the verdict, said Mr. Rampula's dismissal
was not sufficiently justified. The ruling has also undermined the
position of Justice Minister Jiri Pospisil who sacked Mr. Rampula at
the request of Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman. Some observers claim
that the controversy may be linked to efforts by the junior coalition
party Public Affairs to gain control of the Justice Ministry, a claim
the party has strongly rejected.

Victim of judicial error demanding huge compensation package

The victim of a judicial error is demanding 35 million crowns in
compensation. Jan Safranek who was wrongly sentenced for rape spent a
year in prison before police caught up with the real culprit. In one of
the first court rulings on the case a Prague district court ordered the
Justice Ministry to pay Safranek 366 000 crowns in compensation
relating to lost profits. The Prague Supreme Court is to decide how
much Safranek should get for the trauma he suffered and damage to his
reputation. Commentators say this is one of the most glaring cases of
judicial error in the country's modern history.

Authorities move to curb teenage alcohol consumption

A rise in alcohol consumption among teenagers has resulted in a move to
tighten punishment for selling alcohol to minors. The National
Anti-Drug Coordinator Jindrich Voboril on Tuesday confirmed that a
proposed amendment to the law should significantly raise fines for the
offense and should give the authorities the right to close down for
several days pubs which repeatedly break the law. According to a survey
by ESPAD - the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other
Drugs - 21 percent of Czech 16-year olds go on a drinking spree at
least three times a month, 15 percent of those drink spirits. The
number of teenage girls who drink beer has doubled since 1995.

Jan Svejnar still unsure about candidacy

Economist Jan Svejnar, whom the Social Democrats are considering
fielding as their candidate for the post of president, has said he is
not yet certain he wants to enter the race. Mr. Svejnar said he would
prefer to see the new election rules which Parliament has yet to agree
on before making up his mind. The US-based economist is slated as one
of the two hot candidates for the post together with the former prime
minister Jan Fischer. The other Social Democrat nominee being
considered is Social Democrat deputy head Jiri Dienstbier.

Tyden.cz: police investigating second suspicious presidential pardon

Czech detectives are looking into a second reprieve granted by
President Vaclav Klaus under dubious circumstances, according to the
news website Tyden.cz. Citing anonymous sources, the website writes
that Mr Klaus suspended the five-year prison sentence of businessman
Tomas Malina, who was convicted of fraud worth hundreds of millions of
crowns. The reprieve was reportedly based on Mr Malina's medical
condition, however the prison service says his health is good and that
he should begin serving his sentence. The article goes on to say that
two anonymous pieces of information provided to the state attorney��s
office show that Mr Malina manipulated health reports and paid to
arrange the reprieve via a friend of Mr Klaus, Vaclav Petr. Last week
it emerged that a woman convicted of corruption and pardoned by the
president had been in contact with his wife, Livia, on a regular basis.

Tomas Topfer to head Prague's prestigious Vinohrady Theatre

Actor and senator for the Civic Democratic party Tomas Topfer is to
head Prague's prestigious Vinohrady Theatre as of September 1st. He
will be replacing 72-year-old Jindrich Gregorini who earlier announced
his decision to retire. Topfer, a well known theatre actor who has
headed another Prague theatre -Na Fidlovacce - since 1998, received
unanimous support from Prague councilors. His senatorial mandate is due
to expire in the autumn.

Extended weekend metro services scrapped

The extended weekend metro service in the Czech capital will soon be a
thing of the past. Prague city councilors on Tuesday voted unanimously
to scrap the extended service of Prague's metro and bus lines one hour
past midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. The decision was taken for
financial reasons and other restrictions are expected to follow. It is
not yet clear when the change to metro and bus schedules will be


The coming days should be partly cloudy to overcast with daytime highs
between 4 and 8 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Survey shows drinking among 16-year-olds on rise

The European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs (ESPAD)
has found that the number of 16-year-olds in the Czech Republic who
drink beer or hard liquor on a regular basis has gone up. Back in 1995,
14 percent of the country's sixteen-year-olds drank at least three
times a month, but last year the percentage moved up to 20. By
contrast, marijuana use dropped, if only slightly.


Radioactive Waste Depository Authority launches multi-million-crown
incentive to win over municipalities for possible nuclear waste sites

While the Czech Republic relies on nuclear power for some 30 percent of
its total energy supply, the Radioactive Waste Depository Authority is
facing difficulties in finding new locations for depositing nuclear
waste. As an incentive for municipalities to agree to geological
research on their territory, the state-run authority is now offering
mayors millions of crowns. Sarah Borufka has the details.


Gregor Mendel's landmark manuscript returns to his Brno abbey

It can easily be called one of the most important documents in the
history of modern science. Gregor Mendel's priceless manuscript on the
inheritance of plant traits, composed in Brno in 1865, opened the door
to the field of genetics. This month, after many years of changing
hands and much negotiation, it was brought home.


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