Tuesday, September 18, 2012

News 9.18.2012

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

News Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

By: Daniela Lazarova

* Police say they believe criminal negligence was behind the outbreak
of methanol poisonings in the Czech Republic.

* The death toll from contaminated bootleg liquor has reached

* The council for radio and TV broadcasting has issued a ban on
advertisements for spirits while the sale of hard liquor is prohibited.

* Slovakia has announced it is banning liquor imports from the Czech

* Czech spirits producers have protested against the restrictions.

Police say criminal negligence most likely behind bootleg deaths

Police say they believe criminal negligence was behind the outbreak of
methanol poisonings in the Czech Republic. At a press briefing in
Prague on Tuesday Deputy Interior Minister Jaroslav Hruska said the
evidence collected so far pointed to a fatal error rather than a
premeditated crime. Twenty three people have been charged so far and
according to the deputy interior minister investigators were getting
closer to the source, but were not there yet. Police president Martin
Cervicek said earlier that identifying the source and tracing the
contaminated liquor could take weeks.

Death toll from methanol poisoning reaches 22

The death toll from contaminated bootleg liquor in the Czech Republic
has reached twenty-two. An autopsy conducted on a woman who died at
home has confirmed death from methanol poisoning. A 29-year-old man
from south Moravia who had been in critical condition for over a week
also died on Tuesday. The man reportedly ordered the lethal liquor on
the Internet. Meanwhile four more people are reported to have been
hospitalized in Ostrava and Karvine in Moravia after drinking spirits
they had at home. More than 35 people remain in hospital in different
parts of the country, though most of the cases have occurred in Moravia.

Alcohol market still not safe

Preventive checks of spirits are taking place around with country with
police officers, fire fighters and hygiene inspectors out the field
daily. Fire fighters recently uncovered 260 litres of alcohol in
plastic containers in which the methanol content exceeded 20-30
percent. An illegal bottling plant was uncovered in the vicinity of
Cheb, west Bohemia, from which police confiscated equipment, bottles
and stamps. Police are investigating how 94,000 tax stamps designated
for an official liquor producer ended up in the hands of bootleggers.

Radio and TV council bans ads for spirits

The council for radio and TV broadcasting has issued a ban on
advertisements for spirits while sales of hard liquor are prohibited.
The regulation banning the sale of all beverages containing more than
20 percent alcohol - came into effect on Friday after bootleg liquor
took its 20th victim and when it emerged that many of the victims had
bought the deadly alcohol from regular stores. The bottles contained
fake or stolen labels and tax stamps. It is not clear how long the ban
may last for. The health minister has indicated that the government may
in time moderate the ban and enable the sale of imported quality
alcohol that is considered safe.

Ban causing heavy financial losses

Czech spirits producers and importers are losing about 15 million
crowns on net sales every day as a result of the ban. Some have
restricted production and may be laying-off staff. Restaurants and bars
report a steep drop in profits and a drop in regular customers. The
state is also reported to be losing around 25 million in taxes each
day. The estimate includes a drop in excise duty as well as value added

Slovakia announces ban on Czech liquor imports

Slovakia has announced it is banning liquor imports from the Czech
Republic in connection with the outbreak of methanol poisonings. The
ban should take effect as of 5pm on Tuesday. Poland issued a ban on
Czech spirits on Sunday.

Liquor producers say broad ban on spirits tarnishing their reputation

Several liquor producers have issued statements criticizing the
government for having neglected the problems with bootleg alcohol for
years and say that the broad ban on spirits will severely damage their
finances and reputation. The Jan Becher company that makes the
country's famous Becherovka liquor has turned to the European
Commission for help. Some hard drink producers have quickly changed
their production plans in view of the ban on imports from Poland and
Slovakia and are focussing on other buyers.

Norwegian poisons expert says situation in the Czech Republic grave

Dr Knut Erik Hovda from the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Centre in
Oslo who last week brought an antidote to methanol to Prague to help
deal with the outbreak of methanol poisonings has expressed grave
concern with regards to the crisis. He said the situation was very
serious and the authorities did not have things under control. He
moreover noted that in view of the high costs of the antidote
fomepisole Czech doctors only used it in extreme cases treating other
victims with ethanol which was far less effective and not without

Civic Democrats to seek compromise on tax bill

A controversial government bill on tax hikes which was earlier rejected
by the lower house is going back for a repeat vote linked to a vote of
confidence in the center- right government. The prime minister is still
hoping to reach agreement with the six rebel deputies from his own
party who scuppered the legislation and remain vehemently opposed to
the proposed hike in VAT. The threat of the government falling is not
imminent however since the deputies in question have agreed to support
the bill in its first reading and propose changes later. This gives the
prime minister an extra thirty days in which to come up with a
compromise solution.

Defence ministry selling off unused land and property

The Defence Ministry is selling unused land and property in order to be
able to save money. Close to 40 buildings are being put on the market
including a hotel, a spa and wellness facility and unused military
barracks hat can serve as storage facilities. Last year the ministry
sold property to the tune of 364 million crowns, this year it is hoping
to increase its budget by 426 million.


A cold front is expected to bring the warm spell to an abrupt end on
Wednesday with overcast skies, scattered showers and a drop in day
temperatures to between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

A fraction of the homeless make it into census

Among the first results of last year's census in the Czech Republic,
the Czech Statistical Office released the numbers of homeless people.
This is the first attempt to count the number of people living without
permanent shelter in the whole of the country. Yet the numbers may be
more indicative than realistic.


Documentary shows hard work behind legendary jockey's success

A new documentary has just opened in Czech cinemas looking at the life
of the country's greatest jockey: eight-time Pardubice Steeplechase
winner Josef Vana. At 59, Vana competed against riders more than half
his age. The film "Vana - The Greatest Race is Life Itself" reveals not
only the racer's success but the hard work behind all the victories.


Paralympics champion Jiri Jezek - Part 2

In today's One on One my guest is 38-year-old Czech para-cyclist Jiri
Jezek, a gold and silver medal holder from the London Paralympics.
London was Jiri's fourth appearance at the Games and his medal finishes
there saw him become the most successful para-cyclist in history.


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