The senior ruling coalition partners, the Social Democrats, have accused the opposition centre-right Civic Democrats of using the CzechTek affair to gain popularity by publicly condemning the police operation, which has been backed by the prime and interior ministers. The Civic Democrats have called an emergency meeting of leaders of the four non-Communist parliamentary parties to evaluate Saturday's operation. The Social Democrats said on Wednesday that they would not attend.
The Senate's Defence and Security Committee said on Wednesday that the police were too heavy-handed in the break-up of the CzechTek techno party this weekend; the Human Rights Committee intends to call on the Interior Ministry to launch an official investigation. The Czech justice ministry has also asked the Pilsen state attorney's office and an independent law firm to make an assessment on the police intervention. Eighty-nine police officers and a few dozen ravers are reported to have been wounded during Saturday's operation.
Meanwhile, the organisers of protest demonstrations say they fear another CzechTek participant is dead. They say the French national had to be taken to hospital with injuries suffered during the police intervention and has not been seen by his family and friends for the last two days. The hospital says it has no record of a Frenchman admitted over the weekend. A CzechTek participant died on Saturday after he was hit by a car, while crossing a nearby motor-way.
Ceska Obchodni Inspekce, the Czech commercial inspection office, says most clothing stores and a large number of restaurants are overcharging customers. During a two-month inspection earlier this year, it found that 71 percent of the close to 500 textile companies it inspected had broken regulations. In the first six months of the year, 43 percent of over 3,500 restaurants monitored overcharged customers. Following numerous complaints from tourists, the office is currently inspecting exchange bureaux in the country's most popular tourist destinations.
Protest demonstrations against the police operation continued at several cities around the country on Wednesday. CzechTek organisers have said they would not participate in talks proposed by the interior ministry. The meeting between them was to be mediated by former Czech President Vaclav Havel, who has publicly condemned the police operation. On Wednesday evening, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek visited the site in west Bohemia at which CzechTek was held.
Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has responded to critics of Saturday's police action to shut down the annual CzechTek rave party in a front page editorial published in the daily Lidove Noviny on Tuesday. In justifying the police action to shut down the techno party, which took place in a field in West Bohemia, Mr Paroubek wrote that the participants were not innocent "dancing children" but rather "people with anarchist proclivities and international links." He said they were known to "provoke massive violent demonstrations, fuelled by alcohol and drugs, against the peaceful society" throughout Europe.
The foreign ministry has released some grim statistics on the number of Czech holidaymakers to have died abroad this year: a record sixty-six Czechs in total. Most died in traffic accidents. There were 13 deaths in neighbouring Slovakia, and 11 in Croatia, where some 800,000 Czechs will spend their summer holiday this year. The first Czech victim of terrorism died last month in an explosion in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm el Sheikh.
A family friend of former prime minister Stanislav Gross has been sentenced to five years in prison for insurance fraud. The Prague City Court ruled on Tuesday that businesswoman Libuse Barkova had made false property damage claims in 2001 and 2002, which netted her several hundred thousand dollars. Ms Barkova, who has also been investigated for tax evasion, immediately appealed Tuesday's verdict. She first came to national attention in 2003 when her conversations with Interior Minister Gross and a Defence Minister were caught up in a police wiretap, and it was revealed that Ms Barkova owned a building housing a brothel. Stanislav Gross resigned as prime minister this spring in part because of questions about his wife's business dealings with Ms Barkova.
In related news, former president Vaclav Havel, who appeared at a rally on Monday to lend his support to the CzechTek partygoers, has offered to act as a mediator between the government and the rave's organisers. Police announced on Tuesday that 10 people have been charged in relation to Saturday's events, most with assaulting a public official. At least two private citizens have filed complaints against the police. Meanwhile, according to a lightning poll conducted for the daily Mlada fronta Dnes, seven out of ten Czechs believe that the police action to shut down CzechTek was 'too severe'. The Czech police used tear gas, stun grenades, batons and water cannons to disperse the CzechTek crowds, whom the government says were trespassing on private property.
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