The Supreme Administrative Court has ruled that the interior ministry made a mistake refusing to compensate a man from Decin whose father died in 1980 in an accident caused by Soviet troops occupying Czechoslovakia. The ministry refused the application in 2006 due to the fact that the man was already paid an allowance of 2,800 crowns in 1980. The court said that both legal and ethical principles must be employed when deciding on such matters, and the Interior Ministry clearly failed to do so. The man is now entitled to compensation of 150,000 crowns.
The government's fiscal reform package was approved by the Lower House of the Czech Parliament in the second reading on Wednesday while Ludvik Hovorka of the Christian Democrats was the only coalition deputy who did not vote for the reform. The Lower House is scheduled to vote on the final adoption of the reform package on Tuesday but former finance minister and Civic Democratic Party deputy Vlastimil Tlusty told the CTK news agency that further changes need to be incorporated into the reform so that he votes for it next week. According to Mr Tlusty the planned cuts in tax rebates are too high and would actually increase the tax burden for many people in 2009. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek now wants to meet with Mr Tlusty to debate possible changes to the reform package.
A 21-year-old man in Brno suffered serious burns on Wednesday night at the main train station in Brno after he climbed on top of a train and was hit by an electrical charge of 25,000 Volts. The accident caused a power outage at the station which made the staff call an ambulance. The accident happened at the time when Czech Railways is launching a campaign warning people of accidents in similar situations. The campaign includes a controversial poster showing a man hit by electric current.
Frantisek Banyai, the head of the Prague Jewish Community, together with director of the Prague Jewish Museum Leo Pavlat, sent an open letter to the management of the Sparta Prague football club concerning open anti-Semitic slogans that could be heard during the game against Arsenal on Wednesday. Parts of the audience yelled the slogan "Jude Slavia" referring to Sparta city rival Slavia that was playing on the same day. According to the senders, the term is used in a derogatory way and some of Sparta's fans thus openly embrace Nazi-type anti-Semitism. Mr Banyai and Mr Pavlat hope the club will do everything to prevent this from happening in the future.
Six employees from a hospital in Brno - Bohunice have been charged with trafficking organs, the daily Pravo reported on Thursday. Six staff members of the hospital's tissue bank are in suspicion that they took part in an international trade with human organs. At least one of the medics charged is facing eight years in prison, the highest penalty possible for such a crime. The case was discovered three years ago by the police who tracked down of the shipments of xenograft sent to a company in the Netherlands. The hospital lost seven million crowns, or 340,000 US dollars, due to the crime. Most of the accused still work in the hospital in Brno.
The head of the Social Democrats' deputies group in the lower house Michal Hasek said on Wednesday that if the reform package was approved in its present form he would file a complaint against it with the Constitutional Court. According to the Social Democrats the ruling coalition is proposing some modifications in the form of a "rider" i.e. an amendment to a bill that is not directly related to it, a practice which the Constitutional Court has overruled in the past.
Slavia Prague surprisingly beat the firm the favourite Ajax Amsterdam 1:0 on Wednesday in the third preliminary round of the Champions League. Slavia has already attempted to enter the main phase of the prestigious Champions League five times. After the victory in Amsterdam, the team's hope of advancing have risen significantly. The second leg scheduled for Prague in two weeks' time. Sparta Prague, the other Czech team struggling to enter the Champions League, lost their home match against Arsenal London 2:0, and its chances of advancing are negligible.
Economists have welcomed the proposed cuts in social benefits but they say that the reforms do not go far enough to counter the country's steep fiscal deficit. Ales Michl of Raiffeisenbank says that even if the proposed reforms are implemented the country would still operate on a high deficit in the coming years, which he sees as a big risk for the country's economy. Economists estimate that as late as 2010 the country will still need to operate on a deficit of around 100 billion crowns.
One of the deputies of the governing coalition Ludvik Hovorka of the Christian Democrats said after the late night talks that he would not support the reform package. Mr. Hovorka said he was particularly unhappy about proposed changes to the health sector and would submit his own proposals in the course of the debate. Even without his vote, the government still stands a chance to push through the reforms due to the fact that two former Social Democrat deputies, now unaffiliated, have promised to back the reform package.
The mandate and immunity committee of the lower house on Wednesday postponed a debate on whether to strip Communist Party deputy Josef Vondruska of his parliamentary immunity. Vondruska is suspected of having tortured prisoners under the former Communist regime when he worked as a prison guard. Police want to question the deputy about his past activities following charges of brutality filed by former political prisoners. Vonduska has dismissed the accusation, saying that the case was a pretext to damage the Communist Party. According to Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip, the chamber may vote on Vondruska's case in September.