Daily news summary News

08-06-2007

Czech PM, officials, react to possible Russian cooperation on US missile defense

Czech politicians - including the prime minister - have, on the whole, welcomed President Vladimir Putin's offer of possible cooperation by Russia with the US on missile defense. The offer was made by Mr Putin against the backdrop of the G8 summit on Thursday. The move came after weeks of strong rhetoric against the US and its planned defense programme by the Russian leader. While visiting Prague earlier this week, President George W. Bush invited the Russians to come in on the project.

In his offer, Mr Putin suggested the possible use of a Russian military base in Azerbaijan. Czech officials, while welcoming Russia's return to negotiations, have indicated that a base in Azerbaijan could complement but not replace planned US installations in Europe.

Rice says US will continue with former missile defense plans

In related news, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has said that the US will continue with former plans for stationing US bases in Central Europe, despite Russian President Vladimir Putin's proposal on Thursday that the US could deploy its radar and missile defense system outside the region. Ms Rice made clear on Friday that Mr Putin's proposal had come as a surprise to the US, but said it was worth considering even though negotiations between the US, the Czech Republic, and Poland would continue.

State attorney's dismissal from case angers opposition

Radim Obst, the state attorney in charge of the legal case against Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek (charged with corruption) has been replaced by another attorney over a procedural mistake; Supreme State Attorney Renata Vesecka made the news public on Friday. The move saw strong reaction from the opposition during a parliamentary session, interrupted on Friday after both Social Democrat and Communist MPs failed to push through debate on the Cunek case. The Social Democrats have accused the government of trying to manipulate proceedings, an accusation the coalition has rejected. The Social Democrats have said they may consider calling for a vote of no-confidence on the centre-right government.

European, international arrest warrents issued against Pitr

A court has issued European and international warrants for the arrest of convicted Czech businessman Tomas Pitr, who has so far avoided beginning a five year prison sentence for tax evasion. Mr Pitr's lawyers have said they have not been in contact with their client recently. Prague Municipal Court chairman Petr Novak stressed the European and international warrants on Friday were issued as a preventive measure if Mr Pitr attempted to escape the country. He added there was no evidence he had already done so. Tomas Pitr - one of the richest businessmen in the Czech Republic - has appealed his case to the Supreme Court. His current whereabouts are unknown and he is wanted by the Czech police.

Czech Statistical Office: Q1 sees Czech economy grow by 6.1 percent

The Czech economy grew by 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2007, retaining its tempo from the final quarter of last year. The Czech Statistical Office released the latest numbers on Friday. Trade and Industry Minister Martin Riman has called it a "good result", although it was one that was widely expected. Analysts attribute the quick tempo to high consumer spending

In other numbers, the Czech Statistical Office revealed on Friday that unemployment in the Czech Republic fell to 6.4 percent in May, decreasing from 6.8 percent a month before. Prague traditionally has the lowest jobless rate, with 2.4 percent out of work. The worst hit areas include North Bohemia's Most with 17.5 percent, northern Moravia's Karvina with 15.2 percent unemployed.

Czech Senate approves institution to examine totalitarian past

The Czech Senate has approved the founding of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, aimed at allowing the country to understand and come to terms with the Nazi occupation and Czechoslovakia's 41-year-long Communist regime. Senators voted in favour of the institution, whose counterparts have already existed for several years in neighbouring Slovakia and Poland. The bill must now be approved by President Vaclav Klaus. Lower house lawmakers approved the project at the beginning of May. The main task of the new institute will be to group together, analyse and make accessible documents from the Nazi occupation from 1938-1945 and the Communist regime from 1948-1989. The archives will include the documents of the former Communist secret police, the StB.

Senate proposes Masin brothers for state honours for fourth time

The Czech Senate has proposed that state honours be granted to the resistance group of the Masin brothers, who fought their way out of Communist Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s. It is the fourth time the Senate has nominated the Masin group. Left-of-centre representatives were against. The group this year was not nominated for the Order of the White Lion. In total the Senate nominated 25 people, among them renowned Czech author Arnost Lustig, historian Zdenek Mahler, and the late Jan Langos, the first head of Slovakia's Institute of National Memory, who died last year in a car accident.

Poll: majority of Czechs believe legislation should cover euthanasia

A new poll released by the CVVM agency has suggested that almost 60 percent of Czechs think that Czech legislation should allow for cases of euthanasia. 15 percent of respondents of more than 1,100 queried were strongly "for", forty-three percent "mostly for" while 18 percent were "mostly against" and 10 percent were opposed.

CVVM also asked Czechs their views on abortion, with 72 percent of those polled saying that women alone had the right to choose.

Roztocil given 13 year sentence for murder of student in decades-old case

A Prague court has sentenced Rostislav Roztocil to 13 years in prison for the murder of an Egyptian student in a case that goes back more than 30 years Mr Roztocil immigrated to Germany in 1985 and was tried and sentenced in absentia. The court found him guilty and sentenced him to thirty years in prison. Mr Roztocil was only arrested in 2000 when he returned to Czech soil; he later escaped from a Czech prison. Mr Roztocil has maintained his innocence in the case, saying his trial was revenge by Czechoslovakia's secret service for alleged spying. Last year a Czech court struck down his earlier conviction and ordered his case reopened. He appealed Friday's verdict immediately after it was handed down.

Court adjourns decision on Krejcir until Monday

A South African court has adjourned a decision in the case of Czech fugitive businessman Radovan Krejcir until Monday. This week Mr Krejcir's lawyers filed a suit to prevent him from being rearrested on a new warrant. Radovan Krejcir was released from custody on Monday under unclear circumstances, in which a higher instance court ruled that the Czech Republic had missed a deadline for handing over documents regarding Mr Krejcir's extradition. Radovan Krejcir, who holds Seychellois citizenship, was arrested in Johannesburg in April on the basis of an international arrest warrant issued by a Czech court. He is wanted in the Czech Republic on charges of fraud and conspiracy to murder.

Czech MEP injures woman in accident

Czech MEP and member of the Communist Party Miloslav Ransdorf injured a pedestrian in a traffic accident on Friday afternoon in the district of Prague 6. The well-known MEP was behind the wheel of his car when he hit a 44-year-old woman. She suffered light injuries including scratches to her face and arms and was taken to hospital. Eyewitnesses said Mr Ransdorf hadn't realised the woman was at a zebra crossing; he failed to give right of way. The MEP himself said afterwards that he only saw the woman at the last moment. Describing the accident he said he was "absolutely shocked" and ready to accept responsibility.

Weather

Mostly clear conditions are expected into the weekend with daytime temperatures reaching highs of up to 30 degrees Celsius.

08-06-2007