President Vaclav Klaus has appointed judge Vlasta Formankova to the Constitutional Court, after the Senate approved her nomination by a slight majority on Thursday. However, critics say she should not have been appointed, after it emerged that during the communist era she sentenced a pub manager to prison for ten months for insulting party members. Ms Formankova now says she was young at the time she handed down the verdict, which she describes as a mistake.
There has been a huge increase in the number of Czechs taking out
mortgages, thanks to low interest rates and concerted advertising
campaigns, Lidove noviny reported on Friday. All of the country's major
banks have recorded significant increases in the number of mortgages
they have sold, with CSOB bank, for instance, recording a rise of 106
Meanwhile, foreign real estate funds invested over 600 million US dollars in property in the Czech Republic in the first half of 2005, a year-on-year increase of 75 percent, Hospodarske noviny reported.
The Senate has passed a resolution saying that the police used
excessive force when they broke up the CzechTek free techno music
festival last weekend. It also called for a quick and thorough
investigation into the police's actions. On Thursday the police
announced that a special team had been set up to establish exactly what
happened; hundreds were injured on both sides after riot police used
water cannon and tear gas to disperse an estimated 5,000 festival
participants. The Ombudsman's office has also launched an
The issue has been dominating the headlines for the last week, with strong criticism of the police's actions from President Vaclav Klaus, his party the opposition Civic Democrats and former president Vaclav Havel. However, Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan continue to insist the intervention was justified, though both men say some individual police officers may have broken regulations.
A new show by Irish-dancer Michael Flatley due to be performed in Prague later this month has been cancelled. The "Celtic Tiger" show had been postponed from an original date in early July. Its Prague backers have sued Mr Flatley for damages after the latest cancellation. The Chicago-born performer rose to world fame with "Lord of the Dance".
In related news, the Czech ombudsman, Otakar Motejl, said on Thursday that his office would launch its own independent investigation, focusing on steps taken by the authorities and police to disband the CzechTek event, in which dozens of techno fans and police were injured on Saturday. Police had used tear gas, stun grenades, batons and water cannons to disperse the crowds, whom the government say were trespassing on private property. This week, thousands of mostly young people held daily demonstrations outside the Interior Ministry and at other Prague locations in protest of the police action, and Mr Motejl said the ombudsman's office had received numerous complaints.
Two Czech hockey stars have reportedly signed on to play for the NHL's New York Rangers. Forward Martin Straka and defender Marek Malik, who during the NHL lockout have played in the Czech Elite League for the Plzen and Vitkovice teams respectively, are to join their national team mate Jaromir Jagr, who now plays in Russia. During the 2003-04 season, the last before the lockout, 71 Czechs were playing in the NHL.
A special investigatory team of police has begun looking into the police force's recent action to shut down CzechTek, an annual techno party that convened this year in western Bohemia. A police spokesperson said on Thursday that the team was asking both the media and the general public to submit any video recordings, photographs or other relevant documentation of the CzechTek event to the police, in order to aid the team in its work. The formation of the police investigatory team comes on the heels of a Wednesday meeting of the Senate's Defence and Security Committee at which members said the police had been too heavy handed in breaking up the techno party.
Several hundred people, mostly trade unionists, demonstrated in the Romanian city of Iasi on Thursday to demand the extradition of a Czech businessman who fled the country last week to avoid going to prison for incitement to murder. Frantisek Priplata was convicted in June of provoking the murder of a Romanian trade unionist who had been fighting to cancel a contract that Mr Priplata had secured for his employer to buy into a Romanian steelworks. He was to begin an eight-year prison sentence in Romania next month, but escaped to the Czech Republic on Friday. Mr Priplata claims he was not given a fair trial and the Czech foreign ministry has said he will not be extradited. Romania, however, is expected to issue an international warrant for Mr Priplata's arrest and to push for his return.
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.
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.
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