President Vaclav Klaus has signed an amendment which defines domestic violence as a criminal act. Under the new law, perpetrators of domestic violence could receive up to eight years in prison. The president also signed a law on Friday allowing doctors, dentists and pharmacists from other European Union countries to work in the Czech Republic once the country joins the Union on May 1.
The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, has said Czechs do not pose a threat to the labour markets or social welfare systems of countries in the European Union. Mr Svoboda made the statement at a meeting of ambassadors from EU states and new EU states in Prague on Thursday. His words were particularly aimed at Italy, the Netherlands and Sweden, which had promised free access to workers from new EU countries but are now imposing restrictions. Less than three months before the Czech Republic and nine other countries join the Union, only the United Kingdom and Ireland are promising new EU citizens complete freedom on their labour markets.
Mr Klaus has also called on the Czech Foreign Ministry to begin fresh talks with the Vatican on a treaty between the Czech Republic and the Holy See. The president said he would reject the current proposed inter-state agreement, as the Chamber of Deputies did last year. A spokesman for Foreign Minister Svoboda, who is a member of the Christian Democrats, said the minister was planning to put the current wording before parliament again.
The regional court in the city of Olomouc, North Moravia, has quashed the verdict of a first instance court in the town of Jesenik, which in January gave suspended sentences to three youths for attacking a Roma couple in the town. The verdict at that time outraged human rights groups and Romany activists. The three youths burst into the couple's flat in Jesenik last June after saying they were policemen. The woman, who was pregnant at the time, was hit in the eye with a cobblestone, leaving her with permanent injuries. The Olomouc court has ruled that the woman's condition must be taken into account and ordered a retrial of the case.
Czech police say they have arrested two men and a woman accused of smuggling cocaine and the party drug ecstasy from the Netherlands to the Czech Republic. The suspects are believed to be part of a four-member gang, whose leader has been detained by German customs officers. The Czech police hope to have him extradited to the Czech Republic. A police spokesperson said on Wednesday, most of the drugs were sold at nightclubs in the South Moravian towns of Znojmo and Mikulov, owned by one of the arrested men, an Austrian national. The gang was broken up under a six-month operation code-named Abiba, organised by the National Drug Centre.
The Czech Supreme Administrative Court has made three separate rulings in which environmentalists are to gain access to any information concerning the controversial Temelin nuclear power plant in southern Bohemia. Czech environmentalists took the State Office for Nuclear Safety (SUJB) to court, after a several year-long unsuccessful battle for information including the power plant's safety plans, accident plans, and recorded technical faults.
A court in Prague has ruled that Dagmar Havlova, the sister-in-law of former Czech president Vaclav Havel, had not breached bankruptcy rules when she failed to provide information to facilitate a company sell-off. In 1999, Mrs Havlova bought part of Prague's Lucerna Palace from a company that was later forced to declare bankruptcy. The administrator of the company's assets asked Mrs Havlova to give him information and documents needed to dissolve and sell-off the company. She failed to do so and was taken to court.
Former TV star Tereza Pergnerova has been found guilty of distributing drugs. Ms Pergnerova was given a one year suspended sentence by a Prague court on Wednesday, which ruled she had supplied her brother's former girlfriend with the Czech made amphetamine pervitine. Ms Pergnerova, who gained fame as the host of a popular music programme in the 1990s, says she will appeal the verdict.
Elected officials in the region of southern Bohemia have expressed their opposition to a plan to complete third and fourth reactor blocs at the Czech Republic's controversial Temelin nuclear power plant. In a resolution drafted on Tuesday officials also expressed their opposition to the creation of a deep-storage nuclear waste facility in the region. The resolution serves as a "recommendation" to the government. District commissioner Jan Zahradnik indicated on Tuesday it would now be up to the government on how it "weighed" the resolution.
The leaders of the country's governing coalition have approved a package of measures aimed at stabilising the country's troubled health-care system - measures intended to have an effect over the next two years. After the cabinet meeting Tuesday, Miroslav Kalousek, the head of the junior coalition party the Christian Democrats, told journalists that roughly twenty reform measures had been agreed upon, including a 100 percent redistribution of insurance payments among insurance companies. Mr Kalousek stressed that some of the measures had already been put into effect, including the funding of 3.4 billion crowns to troubled hospitals, and the buying up 3 billion crowns in health insurers' debts by consolidation agencies. The new package of measures agreed upon by the cabinet will now be submitted to Health Minister Marie Souckova, to be incorporated into an overall proposal for extensive health-care reforms. Mrs Souckova has staked her ministerial post on the planned reforms that have yet to be debated in Parliament.
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