Wednesday, January 2, 2013

News 1.2.2013

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

News Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

By: Jan Richter

* The Czech Justice Ministry estimates that over 7,400 people will be
affected by an amnesty declared by President Vaclav Klaus.

* The presidential amnesty will end the prosecution in 13 major cases
of alleged economic crime, according to chief Prague prosecutor.

* The Constitutional Court has received six complaints related to the
direct presidential elections.

* Senior Czech diplomat Petr Kolar has been hired by the financial
group PPF.

* Czech film historian Karel Caslavsky has died at the age of 75.

Justice Ministry: presidential amnesty to affect 7,416 people

An amnesty declared by President Vaclav Klaus on New Year's Day will
affect an estimated 7,416 people, or some 25 percent of all prisoners,
Justice Minister Pavel Blazek said on Wednesday. That's some 800 people
more than the ministry's previous estimate. Under the amnesty, people
sentenced to up to one year have been pardoned as have those older than
75 who are serving sentences of up to 10 years. The amnesty also halts
the prosecution of cases which began more than eight years ago for
crimes carrying sentences of up to 10 years.

Presidential amnesty to end prosecution of 13 major cases

In related news, the amnesty declared by President Vaclav Klaus will
end the prosecution in 13 major cases of alleged economic crime, Chief
Prague Prosecutor Lenka Bradacova told the news website on
Wednesday. These include the cases of corrupt judge Jiri Berka, former
managers of Komercni banka, the Trend privatization fund, the case of
the overpriced reconstruction of the Czech House in Moscow, as well as
the case of alleged multi-billion fuel tax evasion by two Czech
companies. The prosecution in all of them began earlier than eight
years ago but no charges have yet been raised, which means they are
covered by the amnesty.

Authorities prepare for pardoned prisoners

Meanwhile, Czech authorities are preparing for the release of prisoners
pardoned under the amnesty declared by President Vaclav Klaus which
comes into effect on Wednesday. Courts are reportedly ready to work
around the clock inside prisons to process the relevant cases. Each of
the 24 Czech prisons is able to release dozens of prisoners a day, a
deputy justice minister said. The police said they had reinforced
patrols in regions where the prisons are located. For their part, the
Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs issued directives for labour
offices on how to proceed should released prisoners approach them for
assistance. Labour offices were told to get sufficient funds in cash to
be able to provide extraordinary financial support.

Top court receives six complaints over presidential election

The Czech Constitutional Court has received six complaints related to
the country's first direct presidential election, the court's secretary
said on Wednesday. The latest complaint was filed on December 31 by a
woman whom the Interior Ministry refused to register as candidate for
the vote. The court will also have to deal with a complaint by Senator
Tomio Okamura who was barred from the race on the grounds of having
failed to collect 50,000 signatures in support of his bid, a claim
rejected by the senator. The court is set to discuss its course of
action on Friday. The complaints could lead to the cancellation or
postponement of the election, the first round of which is scheduled for
January 11 and 12.

Diplomat Petr Kolar joins financial group PPF

Senior Czech diplomat Petr Kolar has been hired by the international
financial group PPF, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. Mr
Kolar served in the past as the Czech ambassador to the US and most
recently to Russia, and briefly also as an advisor to President Vaclav
Havel. He has been appointed to the newly created position of foreign
affairs director at the PPF group, and will mainly focus on the firm's
activities in Asia.

The Dutch-based PPF group, whose majority stake is owned by Czech
businessman Petr Kellner, operates in the areas of consumer financing,
retail banking and insurance in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia
and other countries mainly in central and south-east Asia.

Film historian Karel Caslavsky dies aged 75

Czech film historian Karel Caslavsky died on Wednesday at the age of
75, public broadcaster Czech Television said. Mr Caslavsky worked at
the National Film Archive since 1963 and became a popular TV
personality. He created several shows and co-wrote two volumes of
biographies of Czech films actors. For 20 years, he hosted a programme
on Czech TV entitled In Search of Lost Time in which he presented
archive film footage.

Company, personal bankruptcies up by 46 percent in 2012

The number of both corporate and personal bankruptcies declared in 2012
rose by 46 percent compared to the previous year, according to figures
by the company CCB. Nearly 3,700 firms went bankrupt last year; most of
them were self-employed people registered as entrepreneurs. Some 60
percent of bankrupt firms were active in the services, trade and
restaurant sectors. Meanwhile, nearly 17,000 personal bankruptcies were
declared in 2012 which was the highest number since their introduction
into Czech law in 2008.

Consultancy: Czech fuel tax highest among eastern European EU member

Czech taxes on fuel are the highest among all other eastern European
member states, according to a report by the consultancy firm European
Energy Portal. In VAT and consumption tax, the Czech authorities levy
0.689 euro per liter of diesel which represents 48 percent of the total
price. They collect 0.758 euro per liter of petrol, or 54 percent of
its end price. An association of Czech entrepreneurs and transporters
last year complained about the relatively high fuel taxes, and called
on the government to lower them.

Number of .cz internet domains reaches 1.01 million

The number of internet domains .cz increased by 130,000 last year to
reach 1,01 million, according to the Czech domains administrator
CZ.NIC. Some 10,000 new domains were registered each month, a pace
similar to that seen in the previous year, the administrating body's
director, Ondrej Filip said.

Hockey: Czech U20 team loses to US in world championship quarterfinals

The Czech national hockey team lost 0:7 to the United States in the
quarterfinals of the under 20 world championships in Russia on
Wednesday, meaning they cannot now a medal at the event. The Czechs
conceded five goals while playing short-handed, and lost the second
period 5:0. The Czechs will play either Russia or Switzerland for fifth
place on Friday.


The next few days will be mostly overcast, with rain setting in from
the west towards the end of the week. Daytime highs should range
between 2 and 6 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
President's final New Year's address includes amnesty releasing
prisoners and halting long-running cases

In many ways, Vaclav Klaus's last ever New Year's Day address as Czech
president followed the usual script. But it also contained one big
surprise - the announcement of an amnesty that will see a quarter of
those serving time in Czech jails freed early and the halting of some
cases that have run for years.
New laws to impact household budgets

With gloomy economic outlooks and continuing uncertainty on the job
market Czechs are bracing for another tough year. In its determination
to bring the deficit in public finances to below 3 percent of GDP in
2013 the centre-right Czech government recently pushed through a number
of crucial reforms that will impact each and every citizen.

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