The lower house of the Czech parliament approved an amendment on energy saving measures in buildings, overruling President Václav Klaus’ veto from August. According to the new law, which should come into effect as of next year, all buildings will have to be marked with the level of their energy efficiency. The law also encourages building owners to take energy-saving measures and introduces the concept of zero-energy buildings. The amendment was introduced in order to meet the requirements of an EU directive.
Czech President Václav Klaus criticized the recently imposed ban on the sale of hard liquor on Wednesday calling it an “ill-advised” and “heavy-handed” move. On his visit to Italy, the president indicated that the main problem lies with the state’s inept regulation and control of alcohol production and sales. President Klaus believes that one of the sources of the current problem is that the state has levied and “absurdly high tax” on alcohol in the past, which motivated people to circumvent legal standards. Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek responded to the comments by reiterating their conviction that the ban was absolutely necessary to ensure public safety.
An autopsy on an elderly woman in the Zlín region revealed the cause of death to have been methanol poisoning, which makes this the twenty-third victim since September 6. The woman was found dead in her apartment on Monday by her son. Another man was also found dead in his apartment on Wednesday morning in Zlín. The police are looking into the cause of death.
The Czech Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that last year’s controversial search of the Czech Television offices was illegal and excessive. The court also ruled that the search warrant was issued unconstitutionally. Ten military police officers in face masks and carrying machineguns burst into the Czech Television offices in Prague on March 11 of last year. The team was looking for information connected to the case of the former head of military secret police Miroslav Krejčík. The Constitutional Court said the search was not necessary in order to obtain the information, and that the inspection officers did not fully act according to the protocol.
The European Commission has approved a restructuring loan for state-owned Czech Airlines (ČSA) amounting to 2.5 billion crowns, or 100 million euros. The commission carried out an in-depth investigation into a restructuring plan that was presented by Czech authorities in May 2010. The plan was supposed to be partially funded by a debt-to-equity swap of a CZK 2.5 billion loan from the state-owned company Osinek. The Commission confirmed Wednesday that the restructuring plan was suitable to restore the company's viability and that the loan was valid.
Czech Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl will brief ministers from EU member states on the outbreak of bootleg related deaths in the Czech Republic next week. Sources from the ministry said that the Czech Republic would ask for the issue to be officially tabled on the agenda of a meeting of agriculture ministers due to begin on Monday. The aim is for the country to provide all the relevant information and explain what measures are being taken. Mr. Bendl is also expected to discuss the matter with the European Commissioner for Health John Dalli.
The Czech finance and agriculture ministers have come up with proposals on Wednesday that would help alleviate the ban on hard liquor that was instituted on Friday, 14 September. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek proposed to print new excise stamps, which would be attached to newly produced or imported bottles of alcohol. The new stamps would clearly let consumers know that the alcohol has been produced or imported after the ban and that its origin has been verified. Agriculture minister Petr Bendl said he wants to introduce so-called birth certificates for liquor bottles that would make their origin and ingredients clearly traceable. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said both measures will be part of a government directive that should be ready on Thursday.
An outbreak of dysentery is being reported in parts of northern Moravian cities of Ostrava and Bohumín. 31 people, among them 21 children, have fallen ill in the past month. Most of the patients come from socially disadvantaged neighbourhoods. Last year, Czech medical authorities recorded 44 cases of dysentery over the course of the whole year.
Police say they believe criminal negligence was behind the outbreak of methanol poisonings in the Czech Republic. At a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday Deputy Interior Minister Jaroslav Hruska said the evidence collected so far pointed to a fatal error rather than a premeditated crime. Twenty three people have been charged so far and according to the deputy interior minister investigators were getting closer to the source, but were not there yet. Police president Martin Cervicek said earlier that identifying the source and tracing the contaminated liquor could take weeks.
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