The police has charged five people with trafficking in babies. According to police spokeswoman Iva Knolova further arrests may follow. Several days ago the police prevented a planned transaction at Trebic airport, arresting a doctor and young woman as they were preparing to hand over a newborn to a childless couple. The woman had a large amount of cash in her possession. According to the police spokeswoman the ringleader is a woman and the gang includes a head of department of a maternity ward. Those involved could face up to ten years in prison.
The Czech government has delayed a decision on selling its majority stake in the telecommunications operator Cesky Telecom, amidst a ministerial split on how best to proceed. Several ministers, including Prime Minister Stanislav Gross, favour a flotation on the capital markets but others claim that selling to a strategic investor would be a better long term option. A floatation of the state's 51 percent stake would bring immediate funds to the cash-strapped government. Several previous attempts to sell the government's stake in Telecom failed.
The Cabinet has approved pension bonuses for former political prisoners and labour camp inmates under the communist regime. Meeting on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the protests that led to the fall of communism, the Cabinet approved a directive according to which former prisoners of conscience should in future receive regular bonuses to their pensions, 50 crowns for every month that they had spent in a communist prison or labour camp. According to the Confederation of Political Prisoners the new directive will affect some 6,000 former political prisoners. Those eligible will have to apply for the bonus.
A transsexual is planning to sue the Czech military for discrimination, after the army refused to employ her as a driver. Thirty eight year old Jaroslava Brokesova was turned away despite the fact that she passed all the necessary tests. The military's health committee rejected her application on the grounds that she had undergone a sex change operation. Brokesova says she plans to file two law suits, the first in an attempt to overturn the committee's decision, the second to claim damages for having been forced to make her case public.
The health minister, Milada Emmerova, has presented the government with her draft five-year plan to reform the nation's heath-care system. Her proposals include increasing state oversight of health insurers and reducing spending on drugs. Ms Emmerova also proposed that every state hospital appoint an ombudsman to address patients' concerns.
The deputy chairman of the main opposition Civic Democrats, Petr Necas, told Czech Radio's radiozurnal programme on Monday that his party is ready to form a "broad consensus of political forces" to push for holding early parliamentary elections, now scheduled for 2006. The centre-right Civic Democrats won 18 of 27 seats being contested for the Czech Senate this month while the ruling Social Democrats failed to pick up a single seat. Commenting on these results, Mr Necas said the "democratic legitimacy" of the Social Democrat-led government was "gradually disappearing". This year, the centre-right Civic Democrats defeated the left-leaning Social Democrats in regional Czech elections and in the country's first elections to the European Parliament.
A Prague district court on Monday sentenced 14 alleged members of a criminal gang for trafficking in human beings. The leader of the gang, a Chechen named Ivas Muzavev, was given a four-year prison term and fined 400,000 crowns. Other members of the gang, which included several Armenians and eastern European nationals and employed Czechs drivers, received suspended sentences or at most three-year prison terms as well as fines. Police said the gang had illegally transported at least 1,500 people across Czech territory from August 2002 until the ring was broken up in October last year. The gang initially focused on transporting people from India and its neighbouring countries but had begun to specialise in the former Soviet republics.
The Health Minister, Social Democrat Milada Emmerova has said that the
leadership of the party discussed the possibility of early general
elections at its Saturday meeting. Speaking in a televised debate on
Sunday, Minister Emmerova added that early elections were not the
Social Democrats' first option but merely one of the possible
alternatives. The Social Democrats experienced election defeats in June
in the European elections, last weekend in the elections to the
regional assemblies and in this weekend's second round of Senate
elections, where no Social Democrat candidate was elected.
The senior opposition Civic Democrats won all three of the elections and the junior opposition Communist Party finished second, ahead of the governing Social Democrats.
A special commission which was set up to prevent mass immigration of Roma from neighbouring Slovakia will cease to exist, a spokesman for the Justice Ministry has said. He added that the fears of a mass influx of Roma economic migrants, following the cuts in social benefits in Slovakia and EU accession, have not materialised. In recent years, whole families moved over to live with their relatives in the Czech Republic hoping to improve their living standard. According to the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry the immigration only worsened the living conditions of the Czech Roma population as they now live in overcrowded flats, pay extra expenses, and crime, illegal money-lending and illegal employment are on the rise in the community.
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