Daily news summary News

13-09-2004

Justice Minister considers lowering age of criminal responsibility to 12

The Justice Minister, Pavel Nemec, has said he is considering lowering the age of criminal responsibility for children from 15 to 12 years in cases of particularly serious crimes. Children should be held criminally responsible in cases of murder, grievous bodily harm and robbery. The latest debate over lowering the age of criminal responsibility for children was sparked recently by a number of murders committed by children. In August, a group of children killed and robbed an elderly woman in her home and last week, police identified a 14-year-old boy as the murderer of a 13-year-old girl, his classmate, who was found stabbed to dead in January this year.

Negotiations on ammunition for Afghanistan's army near end

Defence ministry Deputy Minister Martin Belcik has revealed that negotiations on sending Czech ammunition to Afghanistan are drawing to an end. The proposal to donate ammunition to Afghanistan's army under President Hamid Karzai, must now be agreed upon by the Czech government. The Czech Army needs to get rid of thousands of tonnes of unneeded ammunition left over from the former Czechoslovak Army: some 39,000 tonnes are slated to be destroyed later this year, while a further 27, 000 tonnes can be donated, or even sold.

On Monday Mr Belcik refused to comment what type of calibre ammunition Afghanistan's army might receive.

The new Afghani army counts some 13, 000 soldiers, while the number of police officers in the country now count more than twice that number. The actual transport of the Czech ammunition, if agreed upon, would be organised by the United States.

Press: Iraqi politicians ask for arms supplies in Prague

Iraqi officials have asked Prague for arms supplies recently due to the Baghdad government's critical shortage of weapons needed to fight rebel groups and criminal gangs in Iraq, Monday's edition of the newspaper Pravo reports. The daily quotes an Iraqi official as saying that the government forces have nothing but Kalashnikovs with which to take on terrorists armed with missile launchers and machine guns. Three high Iraqi officials visited Prague this summer. In July, it was the Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani, in August the Water Resources Minister Abdul-Latif Rashid, and last week it was the Culture Minister Mufid al-Jazairi. According to the daily, all the three delegations mentioned Baghdad's interest in Czech weapons.

Former Czech president wins Seoul Peace Prize

Vaclav Havel, former president of the Czech Republic, was named on Monday as the winner of the 200,000-dollar Seoul Peace Prize for his efforts to promote democracy. He is the seventh winner of the prize which was established in 1990. Previous recipients include the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and international relief organisations such as Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam. The peace foundation praised Mr Havel as "living testimony to the democratisation" of his country. Vaclav Havel was involved in the human rights movement in the face of the Soviet invasion in 1968 and became one of the prominent figures among Czech intellectuals calling for democracy as an alternative to communism. He served as president of Czechoslovakia from 1989 to 1992 and between 1993 and 2003 he was president of the Czech Republic.

Prague's Attorney's Office sends request to strip Zelezny of European Parliamentary immunity

Prague's Attorney's Office has sent a request to strip Vladimir Zelezny of European Parliamentary immunity which would allow the MP to face criminal charges at home. The request, which is the 2nd put forward in Mr Zelezny's case, was received by the justice ministry, which will now pass it on to the European Parliament. It concerns two incidents in which Mr Zelezny is charged: harming a creditor, as well as tax evasion, during the days when Mr Zelezny was the head of the Czech Republic's most successful private TV broadcaster TV Nova.

Beranek re-elected head of Greens, promises to unite the party

Jan Beranek was re-elected the chairman of the non-parliamentary Green Party at its national conference on Saturday, narrowly defeating his only rival, the Prague branch head Petr Stepanek, by nine of the total of 193 votes cast in the ballot. The vote marked the culmination of recent internal disputes in the party over its management style. With 900 members, the Greens say they are aiming to enter the lower house in the 2006 general elections.

Boy, hit by petrol bomb thrown by peers, suffers burns

On Saturday, an 11-year-old boy from the northern town of Chomutov suffered severe burns on the head, neck and chest after he was hit by a petrol bomb allegedly thrown at him by a group of children. The boy is being treated in a hospital in Prague. The children who had thrown the petrol bomb at him escaped and are hiding from the police. They may not face any legal action as, by all accounts, none of them have yet reached 15 years of age.

Two children in critical condition after being struck by car

Two ten-year-old children, a boy and a girl, are in critical condition after being struck by a car at a pedestrian crossing in Frenstat pod Radhostem, east Moravia on Monday. The two were airlifted to separate hospitals in the nearby city of Ostrava, and the town of Novy Jicin, where they are in intensive care. The driver of the car, a 78-year-old man, is in shock and police have not been able to interview him about the accident as yet. Testing revealed he had not been drinking behind the wheel.

However, it remains likely the driver, who did not brake at all leading up to the accident, will be charged with negligence leading to grievous bodily harm.

Czech free-diver sets new world record

Czech free-diver Martin Stepanek has set a new world record by diving to a depth of 103 metres on one breath, surpassing the previous record set by Venezuelan Carlos Coste. The 27-year old Stepanek set the new record in competition off the Greek island of Spetses, in a discipline that relies only on the use of diver's flippers to increase momentum.

Weather

Tuesday is expected to be sunny with daytime temperatures as high as 27 degrees Celsius.

13-09-2004