Petr Zelenka, a male nurse who is charged with deliberately killing eight people with a lethal doze of the blood-thinning drug heparin has confessed that he administered the drug to 17 patients altogether, injecting the drug on twenty four different occasions. In one case a patient received three dozes before the drug killed him. The hospital in question is now reviewing its medical records to ascertain whether Zelenka did not kill even more people than previously thought. He faces life imprisonment, although his defence lawyers claim he is mentally ill.
The centre-right government is meeting to fine-tune its reform package ahead of a debate in Parliament due to open on Tuesday. The reforms aim to reduce the deficit in public spending to below three percent of GDP and will have an impact on almost all areas of life. Among the most controversial are the proposed tax reform and a reform of the health sector envisaging the introduction of fees for medical services. The opposition has said it will fight the proposal all the way and with its slim majority in the lower house the government needs to reach agreement on all disputed issues. The prime minister has linked his cabinet's future to the reform package saying he would resign if it failed to win approval.
At a press conference marking the fifth anniversary of the devastating 2002 floods, mayor of Prague Pavel Bem said that the city hall had invested two billion crowns into flood protection. He said that 95 percent of the city was now protected from a disaster of such magnitude and that in the event of a flood the new flood protection system could be erected within 24 hours. Forty billion crowns have gone into construction and reconstruction work.
Meanwhile, the results of an opinion poll conducted by the Median agency indicate that 55 percent of Czechs understand and accept the need for reform. Only ten percent of Czechs strictly oppose it. The highest rate of support comes from people aged 18 to 24. Labour and Social Affairs Minister Petr Necas said this was "encouraging news".
A team of American experts are inspecting the Brdy military area south-west of Prague which has been selected as a potential site for a US radar base in the Czech Republic. The main goal of the four day mission is to inspect the geological conditions, as well as the infrastructure and transport network. Prague and Washington are holding talks on the possible installation of a radar in Brdy as part of the US missile defence programme, but no commitment has as yet been made. In the Czech Republic such a project would have to be approved by Parliament. Municipalities in the region are strongly opposed to it and opinion polls suggest that the majority of Czechs do not want a US radar in the country.
Trade unions are planning a mass protest against the planned reforms outside Parliament on Tuesday, the day the lower house is due to start debating proposed amendments to the reform package. The organizers say they expect several hundred people to take part. Trade unions say the planned reforms will benefit the rich and hurt the middle and lower classes.
Industrial production in the Czech Republic rose by 1.0 percent in June from the previous month, according to seasonally adjusted figures released Monday by the Czech Statistics Office. On an annual basis, production in June was up 6.9 percent, after rising 7.5 percent in May. Transport equipment, electronic and optic devices led industrial production in June as well as the manufacture and repair of machinery.
The highly controversial corruption investigation, involving the deputy prime minister has resulted in a war of words between two groups of state attorneys. The Prerov office which originally dealt with the case has filed a complaint against the Jihlava office, to which the case was later transferred on the order of the chief state attorney. The dispute erupted when Jihlava State Attorney Arif Salichov accused his Prerov colleagues of having conducted a biased investigation aimed at finding the deputy prime minister guilty at any cost. Six attorneys at the Prerov office subsequently left the Czech Association of State Attorneys angered that the union had not spoken out in their defense. The Brno State Attorney's Office which is to deal with the complaint said it would asses the matter by the end of August.
The weekend techno party near Havirov is reported to have passed without incident. Around 800 young people took part in the weekend event and police were on standby in the event of trouble. The party took place on private property and aside from isolated complaints about noise pollution there appear to have been no problems. Police say the organizers are now cleaning up the site.
The leaders of the governing coalition are to meet on Monday for some last-minute fine-tuning of the government-proposed reform package. The fiscal reforms aim to reduce the deficit in public finances to below three percent of GDP and have been rejected outright by the opposition for being "too radical". Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek has linked his cabinet's future to the reform package and is determined to push it through. However given the ruling coalition's slim majority in the lower house, it is essential for the three governing parties to iron out their differences on the proposal and support it as one man. Parliament is to open debate on the proposed reforms next Tuesday.
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