Czech President Vaclav Klaus has taken up the issue of the state of Czech psychiatric hospitals in his reply to British author J.K. Rowling. The author of the popular Harry Potter children's books had sent a letter to Mr Klaus and other Czech politicians in mid-July urging them to stop the use of caged beds in Czech psychiatric wards and institutions to restrain people with mental disabilities. Upon receipt of the letter, President Klaus summoned experts in the field to Prague Castle to discuss the state of the mental health care system. "The problem that you mentioned is, of course, very serious, and is the subject of permanent professional study within our country... I cannot but disagree with the impression that in Czech health-care institutions there occurs regular abuse of the aforementioned beds, or even the abuse of mentally disabled children," Mr Klaus wrote.
The outgoing Cabinet has confirmed the dismissal of the Czech's European Commissioner, Pavel Telicka. Mr Telicka is to be replaced in Brussels by Vladimir Spidla, who resigned as prime minister last month. Wednesday's action overturns a Cabinet decision made five months ago, which guaranteed Mr Telicka a mandate until 2006. With newly appointed Prime Minister Stanislav Gross expecting to have a new government formed early next week, this week's session was most probably the last for the old Cabinet. Vladimir Spidla and his cabinet resigned shortly after the ruling coalition parties' poor showing in the elections to the European Parliament held in June. However, Mr Spidla says his Cabinet has met a significant part of its policy aims and has nothing to be ashamed of. In Brussels, Mr Spidla is mainly interested in the justice, enlargement or transport portfolios. The next executive European Commission, which takes office in November, will be put together by new Commission President Jose Manuel Durao Barroso of Portugal.
A policeman who covered up for a crime committed by his colleagues has received a six-month suspended sentence from the court in the eastern town of Frydek-Mistek. Roman Byrtus was found guilty on Tuesday of trying to prevent an investigation into the theft of World War II medals by two fellow officers.
The leaders of the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the
Freedom Union have said they are extremely close to reaching a coalition
agreement, one day after Social Democrat Stanislav Gross was named prime
minister. The three parties have committed themselves to supporting
families with children, education and faster economic growth.
Talks on the composition of the new cabinet are expected to continue until at least the weekend; though Mr Gross had earlier said some ministers would remain in their posts, Freedom Union chairman Pavel Nemec told reporters on Tuesday it had not even been decided which parties would get which ministries.
All three parties were in the previous coalition led by Vladimir Spidla, who stepped down a month ago after the Social Democrats did badly in elections to the European Parliament.
A young man who was killed when his car crashed into a bus in north Moravia at the weekend had been drinking and taking drugs, police in Ostrava said on Tuesday. Traces of alcohol, marijuana and the Czech amphetamine pervitine were found in the 23-year-old driver's blood. One passenger in the car died of her injuries while three others suffered serious head injuries.
T-Mobile has taken a complaint about the Czech Republic's other biggest mobile phone operator, Eurotel, to the European Commission, the company announced on Tuesday. T-Mobile says Eurotel's planned launch of a fast internet system called CDMA contravenes European Union regulations on competition, because Eurotel has an exclusive contract to provide the service in this country.
A train carrying equipment for the Czech chemical detection unit which is to help protect the Olympic Games in Athens has left for Greece. The 35 cars carrying special containers and equipment for radiation and chemical detection and decontamination are guarded by ten soldiers, while the group of 90 specialists will follow by plane. The team of specialists from the Liberec-based NATO rapid response unit will operate in Athens from August 1st till September 30th. The core of the group is made up of Czech specialists but there will also be chemical experts from Italy, Hungary, Spain and Poland.
President Vaclav Klaus has appointed the acting leader of the Social Democratic Party Stanislav Gross the country's new Prime Minister. Mr. Gross heads an old-new Cabinet of three coalition parties, the Social Democrats, the Christian Democrats and the right wing Freedom Union. The new Cabinet will have a thin one-vote majority in the Lower House, and the new Prime Minister has obtained a pledge in writing from each of the 101 coalition deputies that he can rely on them to back the new administration. Later today, the new Prime Minister is to meet with the leaders of the two smaller parties of the governing coalition to debate government policy and personnel matters. The thirty-four year old Stanislav Gross is the youngest Prime Minister in the country's history. He has replaced his party colleague Vladimir Spidla who resigned several weeks ago, after narrowly surviving a vote of no-confidence as party chairman.