Friday, January 4, 2013

News 1.4.2013

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

News Friday, January 4th, 2013

By: Jan Richter

* The Constitutional Court has rejected a request to postpone the
presidential vote.

* Around 7,200 Czech expats have registered to vote in the presidential

* The opposition Public Affairs party has filed a constitutional
complaint over the restitution of church property.

* Some two thirds of prisoners covered by a presidential amnesty have
been released.

* The Czech under-20 hockey team has finished fifth at the world

Constitutional Court rejects request to postpone presidential vote

The Czech Constitutional Court on Friday unanimously rejected a request
to postpone the country's first direct presidential elections, and
confirmed that the vote will take place on the originally planned
dates; the first round of voting will be held on January 11 and 12, the
second two weeks later. The request came from Senator Tomio Okamura
whom the Interior Ministry refused to register as candidate. Mr Okamura
demanded the election be postponed, and filed a complaint against the
ministry's decision. The Constitutional Court is yet to rule on Mr
Okamura's complaint itself; however, the court said he would not be
allowed to stand in the election itself. Reacting to the court's
decision, Senator Okamura said the verdict would create doubts about
the election and its legitimacy. The Constitutional Court on Friday
also rejected complaints by three other people who were not registered
as candidates for the election.

Presidential candidates welcome Constitutional Court's decision

The presidential candidates have welcomed the decision by the
Constitutional Court to hold the election on the originally planned
dates. Jan Fischer said the decision was good news for Czech citizens,
while Tana Fischerova said she considered the decision wise. For his
part, Premysl Sobotka believes the verdict was appropriate, as people
had been getting nervous about whether or not the election would take
place, while Jiri Dienstbier said he had expected the court to reject
the request to postpone the election. Karel Schwarzenberg said he was
glad the vote would take place as originally planned, adding he hoped
the decision would not undermine the election's legitimacy. Nine
candidates are in the running.

Some 7,200 Czech expats register to vote in presidential election

Around 7,200 Czechs living abroad have registered to vote in the
upcoming presidential election, the Czech Foreign Ministry said on
Friday. That is some 600 people more than those registered to vote in
the previous general election. Czech expats will have to cast their
ballots at the country's embassies and consulates; voting in the
Americas will begin on Thursday at 5 PM CET due to the time difference.

Opposition group files complaint over church property restitution

The opposition Public Affairs party has filed a complaint to the
Constitutional Court over the restitution of church property, its
deputy head said on Friday. The group complains about alleged
irregularities in the procedure in the lower house of Parliament, which
approved the deal, and other issues. The court received the complaint
on December 31, its secretary said.

Last November, the Czech Parliament approved a massive church property
restitution deal under which the Roman Catholic Church and other
religious group will get back property confiscated by the communist
regime worth around 75 billion crowns; they are also set to receive
another 59 billion in compensation for property that cannot be returned.

Eight jails conclude releasing prisoners freed under presidential

Eight out of 36 Czech prisons on Friday concluded the release of
prisoners freed under an amnesty declared by President Vaclav Klaus.
Over 5,000 prisoners have been released so far, or around two-thirds of
all those who are serving terms and are affected by the amnesty. In
total, the amnesty shoudl affect over 32,000 people. Many of the freed
prisoners have no financial means, and prisons therefore provide them
with assistance to reach their homes. Several freed prisoners have
already been arrested again for crimes committed soon after their

Online poll: over 80 percent of Czechs opposed presidential amnesty

More than 80 percent of people oppose the amnesty declared by President
Vaclav Klaus, according to an online poll by the SANEP agency. More
than 40 percent of people who took part in the survey consider the
amnesty an immoral and irresponsible move which legitimizes serious
crime, while 20 percent believe the amnesty will help criminals with
links to top politicians. Some 10 percent of those polled approve of
the amnesty's scope.

Ministry releases details about subsidies of express train services

The Czech Transport Ministry on Friday released detailed information
about subsidies of the country's express train services. The state
annually pays around four billion crowns for the services provided by
the state-owned Czech Railways. The highest sum - some 650 million
crowns - covers losses on the major train route between Germany and
Austria via Prague, Brno and Breclav. However, the biggest losses -
some 225 crowns per each kilometre - are registered on
Ostrava-Krnov-Olomouc route. The ministry released the information in
connection with a tender issued last year for the operation of the
Olomouc-Ostrava line. Czech Railways criticized the move as potential
harmful to the company.

Changes to driving licence rules prompt higher scooter sales

Planned changes to driving licence rules have prompted higher sales of
scooters, the news agency CTK reported on Friday. As of mid January,
driving licences for cars will allow drivers to ride scooters with
engines of up to 125 ccm; as a result, sales of motorcycles in this
category have risen by some 30 percent in the past several months. The
most popular model on the Czech market is the Honda PCX 125. However,
overall sales of motorcycles decreased last year by around 8 percent.

Woman who attempted to poison her daughter gets 20 years

A court in Plzen on Friday sentenced a woman to 20 years in prison for
attempting to kill her five-year-old daughter. The woman originally
received an exceptional sentence of 25 years but the Constitutional
Court overturned the verdict. The woman was convicted of attempted
murder; in 2010, she deliberately poisoned her daughter with antifreeze
she added to her tea, and only called an ambulance several hours later.
The girl survived without any permanent damage to her health.

Hockey: Czech U20 team finishes fifth at world championships

The Czech under 20 national hockey team beat Switzerland 4:3 on Friday
to finish fifth at the world championships in Ufa. The Czechs were
losing 1:0 after the first 20 minutes but won the second period 3:1,
and successfully defended their lead in the final stage of the game.
The Czech team also ended fifth at the previous under 20 world
championships in Canada last year.

Ticket sales for Sparta-Chelsea game to start on January 21

Tickets for a Europa League knock-out stage game between Sparta Prague
and Chelsea FC, to be played in Prague on February 14, will begin on
January 21, a Sparta spokesman said on Friday. The tickets will cost
between 950 and 2950 crowns, or between USD 50 and 150. The club will
offer discounts to season ticket holders and members of its fan club;
it's possible that no tickets for the game will be available on general

Tennis: Zakopalova reaches WTA final at Shenzhen

Czech tennis player Klara Zakopalova has reached the final of the WTA
event in Shenzhen after she beat Romania's Monica Niculescu 6-1 6-3 in
the semifinal. The fifth-seeded Czech, who has reached the finals of a
WTA tournament for the first time in two years, will play top seed Li
Na of China in the final on Saturday.


The weekend will be mostly overcast with rain, drizzle or - mainly in
the northeast of the country - snow. Daytime highs should range between
5 and 9 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Low-key election campaign enters final phase

Campaigning in the country's first direct presidential elections has
entered its final phase and the nine candidates in the running for the
top post have just eight days left in which to convince undecided
voters they are the best man -or woman- for the job.
Business News 4.1.2013

In the past weeks in the Czech business world: Almost 3700 businesses
had to close in 2012; the state deficit for the last year was lower
than the government had expected by 4 billion crowns; online stores had
big profits in December thanks to Christmas shopping; the crown may
will most likely take a hit in 2013; the Czech Telecommunication Office
wants to help more mobile phone operators enter the local market.
Designer Jan Ctvrtnik: from Czech Cubism to NASA lunar shields

Young Czech designer Jan Ctvrtnik has worked for some of the best-known
names in the industry, from domestic firm Moser to IKEA and Electrolux.
He has just won an illustrious Droog award for a vase highlighting the
issue of climate change, which also attracted the attention of British
design guru Marcus Fairs. He has studied in Sweden and spent part of
his schooling at NASA HQ in Houston, Texas. He now lives and works in
Italy. During a brief trip back to the Czech Republic, I caught up with
Jan Ctvrtnik in a bustling Prague cafe. As someone who has gained so
much experience living and working abroad, I started by asking him how
he thought design in the Czech Republic measured up to that which he
had witnessed abroad:

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