A court in the northern town of Most has sentenced two Romany men to 400 hours of community service each for physically and verbally assaulting members of the so-called “protective corps” of the far-right Workers’ Party last year in the town of Litvínov. Both men pleaded guilty to the charges and apologised for their statements.
President Václav Klaus says he disagrees with the belief shared by a part of Czech society that the country has failed on its path to freedom and democracy during the past twenty years. In an opinion piece in Saturday’s Lidové noviny, President Klaus writes he does not agree with such an interpretation of the two decades of freedom and will not remain silent towards it. Mr Klaus also said a feeling of discontent in society is being fanned by the media, some intellectuals as well as politicians. In his article, Mr Klaus also calls on Czechs to try and find creative solutions to difficult situations on both individual and public level.
Finance Minister Eduard Janota says he is considering reducing state subsidies on home-building savings by up to one third. According to Saturday’s Mladá fronta Dnes daily, Mr Janota plans to propose the cost-cutting measure to the cabinet. The paper says Mr Janota would like the reduction to apply to new as well as existing contracts in order to save nearly 5 billion crowns of state budget money. Jiří Šedivý of the Czech Building and Loan Societies Association says the government should also consider the potential negative implications of the step.
A recent survey by the SANEP polling agency suggests most Czechs would like state financing of political parties to be reduced. Also, eighty-four percent of those polled believe that members of the Senate should not receive salaries as the post of a Senator should be honorary. Nine out of ten respondents believe that parties that do not make it to parliament should not be given any state money for votes received. Currently, all parties that pass a three-percent threshold in parliamentary elections are entitled to a state subsidy.
Czech Television has reported that police are investigating alleged threats against two witnesses in the firebombing attack in Vítkov earlier this year, in which a two-year old Romany girl suffered third-degree burns to 80 percent of her body. The four neo-Nazis who have been charged with the crime were allegedly detained thanks to the testimonies of two young women, threats against whom appeared on the website of a far-right movement. However, police deny any involvement of third parties in the arrests.
Police say they have identified one of the young men who threw rocks at Civic Democrat chairman and former prime minister Mirek Topolánek on Friday causing him a minor injury above the right eye. The man is allegedly the owner of the car in which the assailants left the scene. However, no suspects have been detained so far. The incident occurred in the south Moravian town of Hustopeče on Friday where Mr Topolánek, who is Civic Democrat election leader in the region, appeared at a rally ahead of October’s general elections. Czech politicians across the spectrum have condemned the act of violence against Mr Topolánek.
Czech palaeontologists in collaboration with their Chinese colleagues have unearthed a fossilised spider believed to be 310 million years old at a site near Rokycany, West Bohemia. Josef Pšenička from the Museum of West Bohemia who is in charge of the excavations says the find is very rare as only a few specimens of that age have been unearthed in the Czech Republic. He says scientists will be able to determine the species as the spider’s whole body including the legs has been preserved. The excavations are taking place on the site of a prehistoric forest buried in volcanic ash.
Police in East Bohemia are investigating what turned out to be a hoax bomb threat at the site of the Hip Hop Kemp music festival in the city of Hradec Králové. Bomb experts searched the site, a local airfield, on Saturday after an anonymous bomb threat was called in to local police. According to the festival organisers, the phone call came from abroad. Some 15,000 visitors have arrived at the four-day festival this year which is scheduled to end on Saturday night.
Around 120 far-right demonstrators gathered in the eastern town of Svitavy on Saturday afternoon for a fourth annual march in support of Vlastimil Pechanec, a member of the skinhead movement sentenced six years ago for a racially motivated murder. Due to heavy rain the protesters called off the march and held a meeting outside the local railway station. Several dozen police officers, including members of riot police, oversaw the gathering but no incidents were reported. Vlastimil Pechanec was sentenced to a 17-year jail sentence in 2003 for murdering a Romany man two years earlier, stabbing him twice in the stomach.
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