The Chamber of Deputies has decided to lower value added tax on certain basic foodstuffs. VAT on coffee, tea, and chocolate products, for example, is currently 19 percent and is to be lowered to 5 percent. If the plan is approved by the Senate and signed by the President, alcoholic beverages would be the only foodstuffs with 19 percent VAT.
A German court has ruled that a Czech fugitive prisoner will be extradited to the Czech Republic if he gets a retrial. Rostislav Roztocil, who was found guilty of murdering an Egyptian student in Czechoslovakia in the 1980s, escaped from the Pilsen prison in West Bohemia last November. He turned himself in to the police in Germany a few weeks later but maintains his innocence.
Doctors, pharmacists, and some employees of smaller hospitals are planning to hold a week of protests in late May (20th - 26th), ahead of the general elections in June. The aim of what they call the Week of Doctors' Unrest is to prevent the current Social Democrat-led government from pushing through new legislation on non-profit hospitals. On Wednesday, a committee of 50 representatives of the protesting health care workers presented Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek and both houses of Parliament with a petition signed by over 230,000 people against health reforms, which they say are crippling the health sector.
The family of a woman, who died at a Prague psychiatric hospital, have lodged a criminal complaint against hospital management, the Aktualne.cz internet news server has reported. The thirty-year old patient, who was being held in a netted bed, suffocated after she attempted to eat her own excrements. The case is also being investigated by the health ministry and the Czech ombudsman.
Czech conservationists are trying to determine the value of a large painting that was found stored at a depository of the Valtice Chateau near Breclav, south Moravia. The painting dates back to the second half of the eighteenth century and was believed to feature Prince Joseph Wenceslas Lichtenstein, who owned the estate at the time, and his extended family. More intense research, though, has uncovered that the Prince is standing next to the Empress Maria Theresa and her relatives.
A bill that bans assisted reproduction or sperm donation after the age of forty will not apply to married couples and partners in serious relationships. Upon the Senate's request, the bill that was passed by the lower house of Parliament earlier this year was amended on Wednesday to apply only to anonymous donors. It has yet to be signed by the President to come into effect.
European diplomats and representatives of NGOs discussed the future of Cuba at a meeting in Prague's Cernin Palace on Wednesday. Foreign Minister Cyril Svoboda, who has just returned from a trip to Canada, also attended the meeting on Cuba and expressed concern over mounting attacks on dissidents and their families on the island. Mr Svoboda said an international effort ought to be made to help free all political prisoners of the Castro regime and called for the EU to voice a united position on growing numbers of human rights violations in Cuba.
Communist Member of Parliament, Jiri Dolejs, is recovering after a violent assault. After a lower house meeting on Tuesday evening, Mr Dolejs was pulled to the ground at a Prague metro station and kicked for several minutes. Mr Dolejs says the attack was politically motivated. The assailants have not been caught. The incident is being investigated by the police.
Former British Prime Minister, John Major, visited Prague on Tuesday.
The former leader of the Conservative Party came to the Czech capital
to support the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats ahead of the
general elections in June and take part in the Forum Populini 2006
conference. Following talks with Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek,
Mr Major said the party was well prepared and set for a good election
The British Labour Party's Tony Blair visited Prague in March to take part in a meeting of socialist leaders and express support for the Social Democrats' election campaign.
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