A thirty-three-year old man from west Bohemia has been sentenced to seven and a half years in jail for molesting and sexually abusing three schoolgirls between the age of 11 and 13. One of the girls was raped, the other two were sexually abused. The man knew all the girls well having intentionally approached and made friends with their parents. When he left the courthouse the man was wearing a mask for fear that the girls relatives would want to take their revenge.
The three parties negotiating a coalition government on Friday reached agreement on a number of anti-corruption measures. Among them are giving incentives to informers, establishing a system under which lobbying would be more transparent and making decisions about tenders public, whereby individual board or cabinet members would be bound by law to reveal who they voted for. The talks on a common anti-corruption policy will continue on Monday. The three parties have already agreed on direct presidential elections and restricting the immunity of deputies and senators. On Friday they also agreed on the prerequisite for holding a local referendum: a petition signed by 250,000 people.
The vice-chair of the Civic Democratic Party, Miroslava Němcová, has been elected speaker of the lower house of Parliament. All 200 members of the Chamber of Deputies were present for the secret ballot, in which Ms Němcová received 118 votes, or the exact number of members from the emerging coalition. The runner-up for the position, Lubomír Zaorálek of the Social Democratic Party, received 79 votes. He was elected later Thursday afternoon as deputy speaker, a post which he held in the previous Parliament. The other two deputy speakers will be Vlasta Parkanová of TOP 09 and Kateřina Klasnová of Public Affairs.
The Czech counter-intelligence service (BIS), along with other secret services, last year participated in the investigation into the attack on the information systems of the delegates to the G20 summit in Seoul, BIS says in its report for 2009. BIS reports that it uncovered a sophisticated attempt at cybernetic espionage in June of last year, when contact persons at various finance ministries received forged electronic mail containing a harmful code that would have compromised the security of the computers in question and the infrastructure of the attacked organisation. BIS did not report who was behind the attack, but says that a comprehensive analysis of the electronic attack and the harmful code itself has been carried out.
The daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported Thursday that the Minister of Finance, Eduard Janota, has prepared a proposal to cut housing subsidies for 25,000 soldiers by 36%. Preliminary calculations suggest that the measure would save the state one billion crowns per year. According to MF Dnes, security negotiators from the emerging coalition are not opposed to the idea; the Minister of Defence, it says, is aware of the plan but does not intend to comment.
The leaders of the three parties have signed an agreement to restrict the immunity of members of both houses of Parliament. The proposal would amend constitutional law in order to allow parliamentarians to be investigated for misdemeanours. Each chamber would still be able to refuse to allow their members to be investigated, though such investigations may be made once the parliamentarian completes his or her mandate. The three parties intend to submit the bill to Parliament on Thursday as a joint proposal. They anticipate the support of the Social Democratic Party, without which they lack the votes to pass the measure.
The south Bohemian city of České Budějovice has decided to build a two-billion-crown concert hall by the late architect Jan Kaplický and has changed a part of the city’s zoning laws in order to do so. The planned structure, in keeping with the avant-garde style of Mr Kaplický’s work, uses organic shapes to resemble a black sting ray with a triangular ground plan of 1.5 hectares. The Antonín Dvořák Conference Hall, as the building is to be called, will have two concert halls for a total of 1,400 seats.
In related news, the Senate has backed a proposal to officially recognise active members of the anticommunist resistance. Depending on their degree of involvement, people involved in combating communism would have the position of veterans of war. Such persons would include those responsible for sabotage, assisting escape over the country’s closed borders, organising demonstrations and petitions and persons imprisoned for at least three years because of their ideologies. A similar bill was approved in the Senate in 2008 but was never read in the Chamber of Deputies.
The parties negotiating a new centre-right government appear to have clashed over the share out of seats in a future government. The Civic Democrats, TOP 09 and Public Affairs had signed an agreement for a 6:5:4 share out of 15 ministerial portfolios in a future government. But TOP 09 leader Karel Schwarzenberg said his party is still sticking to its demand that it have equal weight with the Civic Democrats in terms of overall influence and heavyweight cabinet posts, according to the daily Lidové noviny. TOP 09 deputy leader Miroslav Kalousek has reportedly demanded to be the next finance minister, with the responsibilities of that office undiminished, or threatened not to be in the government at all. Civic Democrats have previously said the prime minister and finance minister should come from the same party.
The Czech upper house has voted down a proposed anti-corruption package which would have introduced the concept of a crown witness and agent provocateur. The proposal drawn up by the outgoing Social Democrat minister of the interior, Martin Pecina, was voted against by 43 senators with 25 in favour. Many also spoke against the idea of increased police use of phone tapping and tax returns to counter corruption. The proposal will now automatically fall with a new lower house having been sworn in following elections.
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