Thursday, January 10, 2013

News 1.10.2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Thursday, January 10th, 2013

By: Jan Velinger

* The Constitutional Court has rejected the last part of a legal
complaint put forward by Senator Tomio Okamura.

* Czechs living abroad will vote in their first direct presidential
election starting Thursday.

* Constitutional Court chairman Pavel Rychetsky has said that
preparation for an amnesty declared at the beginning of the year was

* The government has approved January 16 as a legislatively recognized
day commemorating Jan Palach.

* Officials at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute have issued a
warning over icy conditions expected throughout the country.

Constitutional Court rejects Okamura complaint

The Constitutional Court has rejected the last part of a legal
complaint put forward by disqualified presidential candidate Tomio
Okamura including proposed changes to the constitution and legislation
related to the country's first direct presidential election. The
decision means no unexpected hurdles will prevent the first round of
the election on Friday and Saturday from going ahead. Voters will
choose from nine official candidates; if none surpasses the 50 percent
threshold in the first round, the two top candidates will face each
other in a runoff on January 25 and 26.

Czechs in Brazil and US will cast first ballots

In related news, Czech citizens living abroad will be able to begin
voting in the presidential election a day before their compatriots at
home. Around 7,200 Czechs have registered to vote outside of the Czech
Republic, which they will be able to do at 102 embassies and consulates
around the world. The first ballots in this historic election will be
cast in Brazil and on the west coast of the US starting at 2pm local
time. Voting abroad should finish at the same time as in the Czech
Republic, on Saturday at 2pm Central European time.

Court chairman describes amnesty as amateurish

Pavel Rychetsky, the chairman of the Constitutional Court, has said in
an interview for financial daily Hospodarske noviny that preparations
preceding a recent amnesty declared by President Vaclav Klaus, had been
"amateurish". In his view, the prime minister and justice minister
should have investigated ahead of time the potential impact of the
move. Judge Rychetsky was reacting to a claim that the prime minister's
counter-signature on the amnesty declaration was a mere formality; in a
meeting with journalists he stressed that the prime minister had been
under no obligation to sign the amnesty if he disagreed with it.

The New Year's Day amnesty, especially article 2 which potentially
halts a number of long-running high profile cases against suspects of
corruption and economic crime, has seen a largely negative response
from the public. Earlier this week, President Klaus defended his
decision, suggesting that widespread discontent with the amnesty had
been artificially fuelled by the media.

Case against suspected weapons dealers stopped under amnesty

In related news, the regional court in Liberec has halted a criminal
case against two former managers at Agroplast suspected of illegal arms
sales. The case against Petr Pernicka and Zbynek Svejnoha had been
underway for more than nine years and came under the recent amnesty
declared by the president. The prosecution had claimed the defendants
sold weapons without a license between the years 1994 and 1999; had
they been found guilty each would have faced up to eight years in

Government approves Jan Palach Day

The government has approved a proposal to make 16 January a
legislatively recognized day commemorating Jan Palach. A student at
Charles University, Jan Palach lit himself on fire in 1969 in protest
of the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet-led troops. Palach died of
his injuries on 19 January. He became one of the best known symbols of
protest against the invasion and the Communist regime in
Czechoslovakia. Lawmakers decided not to make Jan Palach Day an
official public holiday for financial reasons. Currently 12 public
holidays are observed in the Czech Republic.

Supreme Court rules employers laying off staff for reasons of
redundancy not obliged to offer different posts

The Supreme Court has ruled that employers are not obliged to offer
staff laid off for reasons of redundancy alternative positions within
firms, even in cases where similar positions are open. The Supreme
Court issued its ruling on Thursday after having studied the Labour Law
in detail, in relation to a case in which an employee had been let go
earlier for said reasons. The employee, a systems administrator, filed
a complaint with the district court in Prague 10 after his position was
scrapped, maintaining he should have been offered another job at a time
when several within the company were available. Two courts, in Prague
10 and the Prague Municipal Court, originally ruled in his favour, but
the Supreme Court struck down the earlier decisions, stressing that the
obligation to offer alternative employment ended in 2006. The Supreme
Court ruling will apply to all lower-instance court decisions.

Czech Republic sees first methanol-related death in 2013

Poisoned alcohol has claimed the life of a Czech in the region of
Olomouc - the first methanol-related death in the Czech Republic in
2013. The news was revealed by the country's chief hygiene officer
Vladimir Valenta. The man was found dead in his home on 9 January - the
39th fatality related to poisoned alcohol since an initial outbreak of
poisoning that began in September of last year after thousands of
litres of tainted liquor were smuggled onto the market. The police
estimated that roughly 5,000 litres of methanol-spiked alcohol remain
in private homes. The country's health minister has repeatedly warned
members of the public not to consume spirits of unknown origin.

Meteorologists issue warning over icy conditions

Officials at the Czech Hydrometeorological Institute have issued a
warning over icy conditions expected throughout the country in the
coming hours. Pedestrians and motorists have been asked to proceed with
the caution. The warning went into effect at noon on Thursday and will
last until 11 pm local time on Friday evening.

Hockey: Jagr returns to US to start shortened NHL season

Czech hockey star Jaromir Jagr departed the Czech Republic at 8:45 on
Thursday morning to return to the United States and the NHL where he is
set to play for the Dallas Stars. The 40-year-old forward played until
now for his hometown team Kladno, helping turn the club into a force in
the Czech league during the NHL lockout. The NHL, which normally begins
in the autumn, will see a shortened season of 48 matches. The lockout
lasted 113 days before a new collective bargaining agreement was
reached between owners and the players' association, the NHLPA. The
exact date for the start of the season has not yet been announced.

Hockey: Trinec faces league-leader Plzen in Extraliga action

Hockey club Trinec has a chance to reach second spot in the Extraliga
if players can clinch a win on Thursday against league leaders Plzen on
Thursday evening. Trinec is currently in third place behind Zlin and 11
points behind the leaders. To earn three points, however, the club will
have to beat Plzen on home ice.


Cloudy conditions with sunny periods and a chance of snow is expected
into Friday. Daytime temperatures should drop to just below zero
heading into the weekend, to around -1 degree Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Czech parents discover nature kindergartens

Nature kindergartens are a relatively new phenomenon in Czech society,
although elsewhere in the world they have been around for more than
half a century. At present they are not part of the Czech school system
and are functioning as private hobby classes, but with growing interest
on the part of parents that may be about to change.
Presidential campaign winds down with concerts, cakes and War with the

Campaigning in the country's first presidential elections is drawing to
a close. With polling stations due to open at 2pm on Friday, the
pressure is easing up and political debates are being replaced by a
party atmosphere at concerts and happenings.
Government plans to ban smoking, curb drinking in restaurants

The Czech government will make a fresh effort to fight smoking and
alcoholism, both of which have long been a serious problem in the
country. After several failed attempts, the Health Ministry plans to
introduce a general smoking ban in public spaces. In addition, the
ministry will also push for a move that would oblige restaurants, bars
and pubs to offer at least one non-alcoholic beverage at a lower price
than the cheapest alcoholic drink.

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