Wednesday, April 3, 2013

News 4.3.2013

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

News Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

By: Jan Velinger

* The president of the European Commission and the Czech president
raised the EU flag over Prague Castle on Wednesday.

* The Supreme Court has rejected four complaints related to the New
Years amnesty.

* Czech and Italian investigators have found the body of a Czech
businessman who went missing last month.

* Czech hockey star Jaromir Jagr has switched clubs, moving from the
Dallas Stars to the Boston Bruins.

* Plzen face Slavia Prague on Wednesday evening for a spot in the
hockey playoff final.

Zeman and Barroso hoist EU flag over Castle in symbolic break with
Klaus era

The president of the European Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, and the
Czech president, Milos Zeman, raised the flag of the European Union
over Prague Castle on Wednesday morning. The move signals a marked
change from the era of the previous Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, who
refused to fly the EU flag.

President Zeman also signed an addendum to the bloc's Lisbon Treaty
enabling the creation of a rescue fund, which is also something that
his eurosceptic predecessor refused to do. The president called the
signing "symbolic" in importance as the fund has been functioning since
last autumn. He also said that he was "convinced" that by the time the
Czech Republic adopts the European currency, problems like those faced
by Cyprus and Greece today will have been overcome.

President: country should be part of EU 'hard' core

In related news, President Milos Zeman said on Wednesday that he would
like the Czech Republic to be part of what he termed the EU 'hard' core
or mainstream. The president outlined that, in his view, the EU needed
joint foreign, defence and fiscal policies, as well as a harmonization
of the tax system. His position differs from the more reserved stance
taken by the country's government led by Prime Minister Petr Necas,
although the country's foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, the
chairman of TOP 09, is 'pro-Europe'. On Wednesday, the prime minister
indicated that the government's foreign policy would not change because
of the ceremonial flag-hoisting.

Supreme Court dismissed amnesty-related complaints

The Supreme Court rejected four legal complaints on Wednesday filed
over ex-president Vaclav Klaus' New Years amnesty. The spokesman for
the court, Petr Knoetig, said the court had found the complaints
inadmissible. State prosecutors were trying to prevent several
long-running cases - including the criminal prosecution of three former
managers at H-System - from being halted. H-system was a major home
construction project which is widely seen as one of the biggest fraud
cases in the country's modern history; its head was sentenced to 12
years in prison and the amnesty had no impact on his jail term. Due to
the amnesty, declared on January 1, 327 criminal prosecution cases were
halted as of mid-February.

Chamber passes amendment introducing new legislatively-recognised days

The Chamber of Deputies has passed a bill to add two significant
legislatively-recognised days to the Czech calendar. The bill, which
passed easily in the lower house, will see January 16 become Jan Palach
day in memory of the student who set himself on fire in 1969 in protest
against the invasion of Czechoslovakia and onset of the Normalisation
period; March 28 will commemorate the date of birth of 17th century
pedagogue, philosopher and religious thinker Jan Amos Komensky
(Comenius). The amendment - if approved by the Senate and signed into
law - will come into effect on August 11 - Jan Palach's birthday. He
would have turned 65 this year.

Krecek elected deputy ombudsman

Social Democrat MP Stanislav Krecek has been elected as deputy to the
country's ombudsman Pavel Varvarovsky. On Wednesday he received 83 of a
possible 164 votes, defeating Filip Dienstbier (the candidate Mr
Varvarovsky had reportedly wanted to see in the job) receiving only 37
votes. The 74-year-old Krecek, who was nominated by the Senate, has
been a member of the lower house since 1998. His seat in the chamber
will be picked up by Social Democrat Gabriela Kalabkova.

Police find body of Czech businessman

Czech and Italian police have found the body of a Czech businessman who
went missing last month, Czech Radio's Regina reports. The man
disappeared in France where he travelled to allegedly conduct business.
Investigators found his remains in a roadside ditch in northern Italy.
An informer reportedly led police to the body. Five suspects in all are
wanted for kidnapping and murder.

Flu claimed 124 lives

This year's flu season was markedly worse than in previous in terms of
related deaths, the Chief Hygiene Officer Vladimir Valenta has said.
The flu claimed 124 lives; 88 percent of those who succumbed were
suffering from other respiratory illnesses or had heart conditions.
According to the hygiene officer, a large part of the population
underestimated the benefits of getting a flu shot; only five percent
get the shot, compared to the EU average of 20 percent. Most of the flu
cases this season were A/H1N1.

Nine remanded in custody for production, sale of ecstasy

A total of nine people have now been charged with the sale of the
illegal drug ecstasy at a recent high school graduation ball where a
19-year-old student died. Investigators are still awaiting the results
of the toxicology report to confirm whether she overdosed. All nine
suspects in the case have been remanded in custody. Eight of those
charged are youths between the ages of 19 and 22; each faces a
potential 10 years in prison if found guilty in the manufacture and
distribution of the illegal drug. The ninth suspect is a man in his
early 50s, who could face up to 12 years in jail. Over the last year,
he is suspected of having sold 10,000 tablets of the drug.

Mountain Rescue Service warns off ski alpinists

The Mountain Rescue Service in the Beskydy Mountains has issued a
statement warning hikers or ski alpinists to stay off the upper ridges
of the peaks in the area due to the danger of avalanches. The Beskdy
Mountains saw an additional 15 centimetres of snow overnight, with the
total amount at the top of the mountains ranging between 100 - 120
centimetres. The Beskydy's Lysa hora has the most: 150 centimetres.

Jagr makes switch from Dallas to Boston

Star forward Jaromir Jagr has joined the Boston Bruins from the Dallas
Stars. Jagr, who is 41, is the 10th leading goal scorer in the history
of the NHL and is perhaps the greatest Czech hockey player of all time.
He is regarded as having a genuine chance of winning the Stanley Cup
with Boston, which is also home to Czech centre David Krejci. The
Bruins are Jagr's sixth NHL club.

Plzen have edge in series, will try to close out Slavia

Also in hockey, Plzen continue their semi-final against Slavia Prague
on Wednesday afternoon. A win by Plzen, who are playing at home, would
put them into the Ceska pojistovna final. Plzen have the edge in the
best-of-seven series, leading by 3:2.


Cloudy and rainy conditions - with a chance of snowfall in places - are
expected in the coming days. Daytime temperatures on Thursday will
hover a little over zero, at around 3 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today

President Zeman hoists EU flag at Prague Castle

Czech President Milos Zeman has made a gesture to distinguish himself
from his predecessor in the eyes of Europe. While the eurosceptic
Vaclav Klaus refused to fly the EU flag, on Wednesday Mr. Zeman raised
the symbol over Prague Castle in the company of the head of the
European Commission. The recently installed head of state also ratified
the eurozone's rescue fund.

Jagr moves to Stanley Cup aspirants Boston

Czech ice hockey legend Jaromir Jagr caused a minor sensation on
Tuesday by switching clubs in the NHL shortly before the league's
transfer deadline. After an impressive season with Dallas, the veteran
star has moved to Boston, putting himself in with a chance of winning
the Stanley Cup one more time.

Czech spas on the ropes

Czech spas are crying foul as cuts to public insurance payments
threaten to put them out of business. The Health Ministry has reduced
both the number of conditions eligible for treatment and the number of
days patients can stay at a spa. On top of budget cuts implemented by
health insurers, this has had a dramatic impact on many of the Czech
Republic's 37 spa facilities. I discussed the situation with Martin
Plachy of the Czech Spa Association.

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