The police officer who allegedly beat up a government human rights official on Monday has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation. Katerina Jacques, a senior official from the government's human rights section, and Green party politician, was demonstrating against a neo-Nazi gathering in Prague. She says she was thrown to the ground, kicked and beaten with a truncheon before being handcuffed and taken away for questioning. The Prime Minister has sharply criticized the police action, saying such behaviour was inexcusable and the officer responsible should be sacked. Both the interior minister Frantisek Bublan and the police president Vladislav Husak have said they consider the use of force against Jacques inappropriate and have promised a thorough investigation.
Customs officials in the Most region of North West Bohemia have uncovered a stock of illegally produced alcoholic spirits during an inspection of three locations around the area. A production line of around 8,500 litres of barrelled spirits and over 11,500 unlicensed bottles of liquor worth around 3 million crowns (more than 130,000 dollars) were discovered, a Customs Department spokesman revealed. Two suspects were also detained during the operation, and, if convicted, could face up to 12 years in prison. An investigation is now underway.
President Vaclav Klaus has criticised negative campaigning ahead of the June parliamentary elections. He said that what was happening had never been the case in the past, that it is dishonest and could mislead voters. His comments came in response to a student's query regarding the billboard posters of the ruling Social Democrats which parody the opposition Civic Democrats slogan "ODS plus" with one which reads "ODS minus", as he visited a Prague secondary school on Wednesday. President Klaus said that a negative campaign is outrageous and questioned why it is not punishable. The right-of-centre Civic Democrats have also reacted to the approach, calling it "deplorable".
The Czech financial group PPF has signed a preliminary agreement to buy the Ukrainian bank Privatinvest, the business daily Hospodarske Noviny reported Tuesday. PPF, which owns the Czech Republic's biggest insurer, Ceska Pojistovna, wants to enter Ukraine following a successful foray in Russia with its company Home Credit, which has become one of the top three specialists in consumer loans in Russia. PPF spokeswoman, Dita Fuchsova, told Hospodarske Noviny that PPF intends to start offering financial services in Ukraine before the end of this year.
The South Korean car maker Hyundai has announced that the one billion euro contract under which it will build a major auto plant in the Czech Republic will be signed in mid-May in Seoul. At the same time Hyundai Motor has postponed "indefinitely" a ground breaking ceremony for the plant at Nosovice, in the northeast of the Czech Republic. Confirmation of the deal seemed uncertain when Hyundai Motor chairman Chung Mong Koo was arrested on embezzlement charges last week. Czech top officials have expressed readiness to go to South Korea for the signing ceremony.
Health minister David Rath has moved to end forced administration at VZP, the country's largest state owned health insurance company. The decision coincides with the appointment of Pavel Horak to the post of general director. Minister Rath, who imposed forced administration on VZP last November said the situation had stabilized and the company's debt had shrunk from 12 billion to seven billion crowns. The minister's critics counter that it was not forced administration which reduced the debt but a generous financial injection from the government.
A public opinion survey just out indicates that more than half of Czechs would like to see Vaclav Klaus re-elected president in 2008. 57 percent of respondents said Mr. Klaus represented the country well and should serve a second 5 year term in office. The survey also revealed that 73 percent of people across the political spectrum would like the president to be elected in a direct vote.
The Czech Veterinary Office has called off special measures aimed at preventing the spread of bird flu in two of the five areas where infected birds were found. They include a ban on outdoor breeding and a ban on the transport of live birds and poultry products. The last infected bird was found on Czech territory three weeks ago and if no further cases appear the measures will gradually be modified and lifted in all affected areas of southern Bohemia. Altogether twelve birds were found to be infected with the lethal H5N1 virus, all of them in southern Bohemia.
President Klaus on Tuesday received a delegation of doctors who are dissatisfied with the reforms implemented by health minister David Rath. They expressed the view that the health minister lacks a coherent health care policy and is effecting costly reforms which are undermining the quality of health care in the Czech Republic. The minister's critics likewise tabled their reservations to the bill on non-profit hospitals which President Klaus is expected to sign or veto by the end of this week.
The police officer who allegedly beat up a government human rights official who was demonstrating against a neo-Nazi gathering in Prague on Labour Day has been suspended pending the outcome of an investigation. Katerina Jacques a senior official from the government's human rights section and a candidate for the opposition Green Party in the forthcoming parliamentary elections says she was thrown to the ground, kicked and beaten with a truncheon before being handcuffed and taken away for questioning. Interior Minister Frantisek Bublan said the incident would be thoroughly investigated.
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