Wednesday, August 29, 2012

News 8.29.2012

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

News Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

By: Masha Volynsky

* Police president Petr Lessy has been sacked after being accused of
libel and abuse of public office.

* Vit Barta has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court over his
suspended sentence for bribery.

* President Vaclav Klaus wants assurances before signing the church
property restitution bill.

* Martin Knetig, former aid to the Environment Minister, has been
acquitted of corruption charges.

* Government looks favorably on Senate's proposal to get rid of
lifelong immunity for lawmakers and consitutional court judges.

Lessy sacked for misconduct, ready to fight back

Petr Lessy was relieved of his duties as the president of the Czech
Police on Wednesday morning. Interior Minister Jan Kubice dismissed Mr
Lessy from the police force with immediate effect following the filing
of criminal charges against him. The General Inspectorate of Security
Forces accused the now former police chief of libel and abuse of public
office. At a press conference later in the day, Mr Kubice cited a law
that says a police officer can be dismissed if he is accused of
contemptible or possible criminal behaviour which could threaten the
good reputation of the security forces. Mr Lessy told the E15 news
server that he considers the accusations to be nonsensical and is ready
to defend himself. Mr Lessy will be replaced by his former deputy
Martin Cervicek, the government announced.

The slander charge is connected to statements Mr Lessy made more than
half a year ago about the head of the Zlin regional police force
Bedrich Koutny and his deputy Jaroslav Vanek in relation to the
so-called Tofl gang case. Interior Minister Jan Kubice has called on Mr
Lessy to resign a number of times in the past. Chairman of the
opposition Sovial Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, fiercely criticized the
move, saying the dismissal is an attempt of the Civic Democrats and the
TOP 09 party to curtail the independence of the police force.

Barta appeals the April verdict with Supreme Court

The Public Affairs party MP Vit Barta has filed an appeal of the April
decision by the Prague 5 district court, on Tuesday. Judge Jan Sott
gave Mr Barta an eighteen-month suspended sentence for giving fellow
party members hefty bribes in the form of interest-free loans in order
to increase his influence. Barta lodged his appeal to the Czech Supreme
Court claiming that the court's decision referred to events that took
place in the parliament, where he has immunity as an MP. The appeal in
the case of Jaroslav Skarka, who was originally one of Mr Barta
accusers and later became his co-defendant, is also currently under

President asks for assurance on church restitution

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has asked Prime Minister Petr Necas to
give a guarantee that the planned church property settlement will not
breech the restitution limit of 25 February 1948. President Klaus said
in a letter to the heads of the coalition parties that such a guarantee
is necessary for him to sign the church restitution bill, that the
coalition is planning to pass in the lower house, overriding an earlier
Senate veto. The president wrote that he and many others are concerned
that if the church settlement will pertain to property changes from
before the communist take-over in 1948, it may set a dangerous
precedent for the future, opening numerous cases from third parties
that may potentially threaten state sovereignty.

Former aid to Environment Minister acquitted of corruption charges

A Prague district court acquitted Martin Knetig, one-time advisor to
the former Czech environment minister Pavel Drobil, of corruption
charges on Tuesday. The state attorney appealed the verdict on the
spot. Mr Knetig was accused of corruption after allegedly demanding a
bribe from a bank officer in connection with depositing the State
Environmental Fund's money into a number of unspecified banks in 2010.
Allegedly, Mr Knetig sought to collect money for the Civic Democratic
Party. Pavel Drobil resigned as Environment Minister in December 2010
in relation to the same scandal.

Government in favor of ending lifelong immunity

Prime Minister Petr Necas announced today that his cabinet is in favor
of the Czech Senate's proposal for a constitutional amendment that
would divest members of both houses of parliament and the
constitutional court judges of life-long immunity. The government had
previously supported a similar proposal by a group of MPs. In both
cases, cabinet members suggested that the new rules should apply to
newly elected officials not to current ones. Both of the submitted
proposals want to change the current practice according to which MPs or
Senators cannot be tried for criminal offenses at any time, if a
parliamentary committee confirms their immunity. The new proposal would
give immunity to lawmakers and judges only for the duration of their
term, if the lower or upper house do not retract their immunity.

President Klaus expresses great concern over Lessy's sacking

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has expressed great concern over the
dismissal of Police President Petr Lessy on Wednesday. Apparently, the
president was not made aware of this crucial move, and the quick naming
of Mr Lessy's deputy Martin Cervicek as replacement. President Klaus
said in a statement that the interior minister's decision "will
destabilize not only the police force, but the whole of the Czech
political sphere as well." According to Interior Minister Jan Kubice,
the Prime Minister Petr Necas was also not informed of this move

Government approves new healthcare regulations

The government approved on a new regulation that states that patients
sets a specific distance within which providers of medical services can
be reached and changes the waiting time for certain operation. The
directive, that was submitted by Health Minister Leos Heger and was
approved on Wednesday, guarantees that patients should be able to reach
their general practioners, dentists, gynecologists, and pharmacies at
most within 35 minutes by car, and shortens the maximum waiting period
for operations like knee and hip replacements or mammograms. Waiting
periods for some medical procedures were increased. Unions, the
National Disability Council and the Czech Association of Patients
criticized the establishment of a distance for practitioners claiming
this will allow health insurance companies to terminate contracts with
some doctors and hospitals.

Future aid to Afghanistan set for 140 million crowns

The Czech government approved a budget for aid to Afghanistan for the
period 2014-2017 on Wednesday. The Czech Republic will give a total of
80 million crowns for development projects and 60 million more to
support security forces in Afghanistan. The newly structured funds are
meant to substitute the work of Czech Army's Provincial Reconstruction
Team in the Logar province, which is part of NATO's International
Security Assistance Force mission. The Czech team is set to leave
Afghanistan in the middle of next year.

Ostrava city hall turns to the state to resolve Prednardazi dispute

City officials in Ostrava has requested a district court to rule on the
ownership rights of the defunct sewer in the Prednadrazi district,
where a slum is located. The Prednadrazi slum, that has been occupied
primarily by Romani tenants, has been at the center of month-long
controversy. City officials have been trying to get residents to leave
the slum buildings that have fallen into disrepair and have been deemed
uninhabitable. The buildings' owner, who has been issued with a fine,
claimed he is willing to carry out necessary repairs as long as the
city fixes the sewage system, which does not belong to him. City
officials have claim that this particular section of the sewage does
not belong to the city either. Approximately 100 people remain in some
of the buildings without running water or other amenities for almost a

New tourism campaign highlights famous figures from abroad

The national tourism agency CzechTourism is launching a new campaign to
promote the country abroad. Magazine and newspaper ads in different
countries refer to well-know historical figures from those nations that
have visited the Czech Republic. German tourists will read about Johann
Wolfgang Goethe's amorous adventures in Marianske Lazne; French readers
will be beckoned to visit the country by learning about how Guillaume
Apollinaire was so inspired by Prague that he wrote his famous story
Prague Walker in two days. The campaign will also extend to Czech
tourist and will cover all the regions of the country.


Sunny and partly overcast weather is expected on Thursday; daytime
temperatures should reach highs between 27 and 31 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Czech distillers expect lower sales due to changing lifestyle, weak
economy and taxation

The changing lifestyle of the Czechs, combined with a protracted
economic recession and increased taxation, has led to a significant
drop in the sales of spirits on the Czech market. According to fresh
figures by the Czech Republic's Union of Spirits Producers and
Importers, sales dropped by 7 percent from January to June, a trend
that began three years ago. Radio Prague talked to Petr Pavlik, the
head of the union and the CEO of the country's biggest spirits producer
Stock Bozkov, and asked him about the drop in sales and the strategies
of the Czech producers to expand their business.
Police president Lessy sacked for alleged libel, misconduct

Petr Lessy was relieved of duty as the president of the Czech Police on
Wednesday morning by the interior minister. The move comes after the
General Inspectorate of the Security Forces charged the police official
with libel and abuse of public office. The libel charge is connected to
statements Mr Lessy made over half a year ago. The opposition has
slammed his dismissal, saying there were other reasons Mr Lessy was
Fresh Film Fest kicks off in Prague with Manipulation as its main theme

The 9th Fresh Film Fest opens in Prague on Wednesday celebrating new
and debut films from around the world. This year's installment of the
festival features movies by British documentary maker Peter Watkins,
Tom Tykwer and other Czech and international artists. The main theme of
the Fresh Film Fest this year is Manipulation. Radio Prague spoke to
the festival's programme director Michal Hogenauer, and asked him what
exactly this means.

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