Companies would receive tax breaks for contributing towards holidays their employees spend in the Czech Republic under a proposal from Social Democrat MP Miroslav Svoboda. The daily Pravo reported that the contribution would amount to 10,000 crowns (around 400 US dollars) and said other Social Democrats backed the plan, which is aimed at supporting tourism in the Czech Republic.
General practitioners are once again threatening to strike in protest of delayed payments from the General Health Insurance Company, VZP. GPs say they are getting payments up to a month late despite the fact that the General Health Insurance Company is under forced administration, a move that the health minister David Rath said would secure financial stability. The health ministry is likewise under pressure from chemists who are threatening to strike over the government's decision to lower their profit margins by 3 percent as of January 1st. The opposition Civic Democrats have strongly criticized the health minister for his performance in office, saying that the radical measures he has effected have merely heightened the crisis in the Czech health sector.
The chief obstetrician of a maternity hospital stands charged with causing death through negligence after he ordered the transfer of a mother in labour to a different hospital where her baby was born stillborn. The state attorney on the case claims that a proper examination of the mother -including an ultrasound - would have shown that she needed immediate care and that further loss of time would put hers and the baby's life in danger. If found guilty, the obstetrician could face up to five years in prison.
Three young Germans of Russian origin have been handed lengthy jail sentences for the kidnapping, rape and murder of a prostitute in the Czech Republic. The regional court in the southern German city of Heilbronn found that the three men had planned to sell the sex worker from the Czech border city of Plzen to a brothel in Germany. The judges said the leader of the group hatched the plot because he was 30,000 euros in debt. They raped and killed the 37 year old woman after failing to beat her into submission, for fear that she would report them to the police. Two of them received life sentences, the third was handed a fifteen year prison sentence.
In related news, the Czech state agency for attracting investment, CzechInvest, said on Monday that it had helped secure 154 foreign and local investment projects worth 3.1 billion dollars last year - a record number of projects. CzechInvest head Tomas Hruda said the new projects would help create some 22,000 new jobs.
A second high-profile Czech businessman returned from aboard this week to face criminal charges. Jiri Syrovatka, who was sentenced to nine years in prison for his alleged role in a tax fraud case, had been in the United States on holiday. A co-defendant in the case, businessman Tomas Pitr, had returned home to the Czech Republic from neighbouring Austria on Thursday. Both men have filed appeals but were considered high risks for flight. Had Syrovatka not returned to the country by this Monday, police would have issued an international arrest warrant.
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