Spanish poet and novelist Juan Goytisolo was awarded the Spiros Vergos prize for Freedom of Expression at the opening ceremony of the Prague Writers’ Festival 2012 on Sunday. Goytisolo, whose father was imprisoned by the Republican government during the Spanish Civil war, lives in self-imposed exile in Marrakech. In his acceptance speech, the Spanish writer dedicated the award to German author Günter Grass, who published a controversial poem on Israel and Iran a few weeks ago and was banned from travelling to Israel as a consequence. The Spiros Vergos prize was established in honor of a Greek poet, diplomat and journalist who was a great friend of the festival and directed it in 2005. He died in Prague in May 2007.
The Supreme Court has legally defined the term “dissipated lifestyle”, which constitutes grounds for divorce or disinheriting a relative. According to the court’s definition a dissipated lifestyle constitutes long-term neglect of family and children, alcohol or drug abuse and obsessive gambling, as well as repeated criminal offenses. The court was led to provide a precise legal definition of the term in connection with a controversial court case in which a father disinherited his son for his dissipated lifestyle. The court upheld the father’s decision.
The Transport Ministry has been fined 400,000 crowns by the Office for the Protection of Competition for scrapping a tender without good reason in 2009 and damaging the companies which lost time and money in filing bids. The Transport Ministry scrapped a tender for a project on road safety and education. It put three companies on a short-list but at the last minute decided to give the commission to a fourth party, citing the results of an internal audit. In an effort to avoid problems the ministry broke up the commission into 14 smaller projects.
There are reports of a continuing power struggle within the junior coalition party Public Affairs. The internet dailies idnes.cz and novinky.cz say they have received information from inside sources that the faction around the party’s de-facto leader Vit Bárta is exerting pressure on Transport Minister Pavel Dobeš to resign from office or face expulsion from the party for insubordination to the party leadership. Observers say there is now a fierce battle for power between two emerging factions in Public Affairs – one centred around Vit Bárta who remains a powerful figure despite having had to suspend his party membership after a court found him guilty of bribery last week, the other around Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peak.
The vast majority of Czechs believe that foreigners who want to settle in the Czech Republic should respect the local way of life and have a basic knowledge of the country’s language, culture and history, according to a poll conducted by the CVVM agency. About a half of respondents are of the view that foreigners are not perceived as such if they have been living in the Czech Republic for at least ten years, have a good grasp of the language and participate in social activities at their place of residence. Older people are more rigid in how far foreigners should assimilate, with an accent on quiet law-abiding neighbours who hold down a job.
A South African court is to review the Czech Republic’s request for the extradition of Czech fugitive businessman Radovan Krejčír. A court in Johannesburg rejected the Czech request in 2008 but the Czech Justice Ministry appealed the verdict and the Supreme Court has now ruled that the case should be reopened on the grounds that the judge may have been biased. Krejčír, who is wanted by the Czech authorities on charges of tax fraud and conspiracy to commit murder, fled the Czech Republic in 2005 and has since become a reputed major player in the South African underworld. South African police are investing several murder cases in which his name appears, and he is to face trial over insurance fraud in April.
Czech university students have launched another week of protest actions against the government’s reforms, including the introduction of enrolment fees at universities. Meetings and lectures about the impact of the government’s reform plans will be held in universities around the country. On Saturday, April 21st students will join a nation-wide trade union protest demonstration in Prague. The organizers expect some 45,000 people to turn out for the event. The first week of student protests against the government’s reforms took place in February with a 20,000 strong turnout.
The Czech Police Inspectorate has concluded that the officers who detained lobbyist Roman Janoušek after his recent hit-and-run incident did not break the law. A spokesman for the inspectorate said the investigation was closed and no irregularities or breach of existing laws had been uncovered on the part of the officers in question. News that the influential lobbyist had been handled in kid gloves by the police, not been handcuffed and was allowed to make an unspecified number of phone calls after causing an accident and running over a woman while drunk caused an uproar. Police President Petr Lessy issued a public apology over the incident and urged Prague police chief Martin Vondrášek to resign in connection with the case.
A tram collided with a tourist bus in Prague’s Karlín district before mid-day on Monday. Five people were lightly injured in the accident; the driver and four tram passengers. Police are investigating the cause of the accident. Tram traffic in the area had to be rerouted since the tram derailed in the crash.
On a working visit to Albania Prime minister Petr Nečas said he was shocked by the news that Public Affairs was exerting pressure on Transport Minister Pavel Dobeš to resign from office. Mr. Nečas said he was satisfied with Mr. Dobeš’ performance in office and intended to stand by him. The transport minister, who is accompanying the prime minister on his working visit to Albania, said he would comment on the matter upon his return.
New foreigners’ law to change conditions for non-EU nationals
Czech foreign ministry reports record number of visa applications
Czech rock climber Adam Ondra knocked out of World Cup in Japan
New index shows locations with best quality of life in Czech Republic
Archaeologists unearth rare Renaissance-Baroque brew house in ‘Czech Paradise’