Iraqi premier Nouri al-Maliki has cancelled a planned visit to the Czech Republic due to the tumultuous political situation in Iraq, a spokesman for the Czech government confirmed on Thursday. However, an Iraqi delegation will be making a two-day official visit to the Czech Republic on January 23. On the agenda will be a possible sale of twenty Czech military aircrafts of the Aero L 159 ALCA type to Iraq, as well as Czech-Iraqi cooperation in the areas of energy policy and transport in Iraq. The two countries have been discussing the sale of the Czech combat planes for over a year. In 2010, Prime Minister Petr Nečas had travelled to Iraq to lobby for the deal. In the wake of the U.S. troop withdrawal at the end of 2011, a series of attacks in mostly Shiite neighborhoods has shaken the country, with many Iraqis fearing a descent into a wave sectarian violence.
Petr Kočí, a lawyer who in a current case has filed an objection against
the well-respected judicial expert Michal Mazel, told press on Thursday
that his principal reason for doing so was the fact that Mazel’s
assessments were overpriced. Michal Mazel has announced that he will be
taking legal steps against the advocate, who had previously also explained
his objection by stating that Mr. Mazel was biased due to his Jewish
Many were shocked by the advocate’s objection against the judicial expert, whose testimony was crucial in such cases as the Vítkov arson attack and the dissolution of the rightwing Workers’ Party. Mr. Mazel has since resigned, stating that he had had enough of being the target of extremists and that Kočí’s objection was but the last straw.
The Czech Foreign Minister, and head of the coalition TOP 09 party, has threatened that ministers for his party will leave the government if it does not join the EU’s planned fiscal union. Mr Schwarzenberg told the daily Lidové noviny on Thursday he would not be part of a cabinet that leads the Czech Republic outside the main stream of European integration. The country cannot afford to be isolated, Mr Schwarzenberg added. For his part, President Václav Klaus wrote a letter to PM Petr Nečas making it clear he would not under any condition sign such a fiscal treaty into law.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice on Thursday called on the General
Inspectorate of Security Forces (GIBS) to investigate a case of bonuses
that Police President Petr Lessy allegedly paid out to members of the
police last year and that may have exceeded maximum amounts he agreed on
with the minister. According to media reports, Mr. Lessy had handed out
excessive bonus payments to nine high-ranking members of the police force.
Mr. Kubice has told the press that he considers this behavior a
violation of the orders Mr. Lessy was given.
Mr. Lessy is also currently facing disciplinary proceedings for comments he made about the former deputy chief of the Zlín regional police in connection with a case of widespread corruption within the Brno police’s economic crimes unit.
The state should cover the cost of treatment for drug addicts who can’t afford it, the Czech Supreme Administrative Court ruled on Wednesday. The court was dealing with a case of a woman who joined a therapeutic community but had no means to sustain herself, and the local authorities refused to grant her social benefits. The judges said the woman’s financial problems cannot prevent her from completing her treatment. The Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said it would wait for the verdict to be delivered in writing before instructing labour offices around the country to implement the ruling in their agenda.
In related news, the opposition Social Democrats said on Wednesday they would vote against the bill on the restitution of church property when it gets to Parliament. The party expressed concern that the bill might in effect break the Czech property restitution limit of February 1948. Opposition leaders also said the legislation should be approved in a referendum as it does not enjoy support of the public.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová beat Slovak Daniela Hantuchová 6:0, 6:4 at the Sydney International on Wednesday, and reached the tournament seminfinals where she will face Li Na of China. If the 21-year Czech wins the event, she will become world’s number one for the first time in her career, just days before the start of the Australian Open.
A group of expectant mothers and midwives will sue the Czech Republic at the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg over home births, the news website tyden.cz reported on Wednesday. They complain that home births are not covered by medical insurance and midwives face administrative obstacles which effectively prevent them from doing their jobs. A lawyer representing the group said the complaint would be filed by the end of the month. A spokesman for the Czech health ministry rejected the claims, and argued that the wellbeing of mothers and newborns were the primary concern.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved legislation on the restitution
of church property. Under the new bill, 17 Czech churches and religious
societies will get back 56 percent of the property confiscated by the
communist regime in the 1950s. For the rest, the churches will receive 59
billion crowns, plus inflation, over the period of 30 years.
The decision comes after a heated dispute within the coalition; the junior Public Affairs opposed the bill but eventually agreed to support it after PM Nečas promised the respective funds would not be drawn from the ministries run by Public Affairs politicians.
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