Daily news summary News

21-09-2004

Three Communist MPs likely to support veto override on European Arrest Warrant

The Deputy Chairman of the Czech Communist Party, Jiri Dolejs, has said he and two other Communists MPs would likely vote to override President Vaclav Klaus's veto on the introduction of a European Arrest Warrant. The vote in the lower house of Parliament is scheduled for Friday. Most Communist deputies argue that adopting the European Arrest Warrant should be preceded the adoption of an amendment to the Charter of Basic Human Rights and Freedoms, which would allow the extradition of Czech citizens abroad. Without the amendment, both the Communist and the main opposition Civic Democrats, of which President Klaus was chairman, consider the bill to be unconstitutional. The European Arrest warrant only relates to serious crime such as terrorism, trafficking in drugs, people or weapons, murder, rape, and engaging in paedophilia.

Deputies are also due to vote on Friday on bills relating to reforming the educational system reform and the abolition of compulsory national military service.

Extradition to U.S. of Israeli national alleged to head Ecstasy smuggling ring could take weeks

A Czech court decision allowing the extradition of an Israeli citizen arrested in the Czech Republic last week as part of an international crackdown on traffickers smuggling the recreational drug Ecstasy could take several weeks, a Czech police spokeswoman said. The Israeli man is alleged to have headed a group of Czech and Israeli citizens who acquired the drug in different European countries and then smuggled it on to Los Angeles, California. U.S. authorities had requested his extradition. A total of 13 people have been arrest in recent weeks for their alleged involvement in the international drugs-smuggling ring. Two people arrested in the United States had 160, 000 tablets of Ecstasy smuggled form the Czech Republic in their possession. Two Czech members of the drug ring were arrested one week ago in Graz, Austria, as part of the crackdown.

Ministry for Local Development says concern over expropriation law unwarranted

A spokesman for the Ministry for Local Development on Tuesday tried to calm fears that a new draft bill on the expropriation of property in cases of the "public interest" would short change property owners. The spokesman said the government would continue to buy expropriated properties at "standard" market rates and that the ministry's draft bill would clearly outline what constituted the public interest. Projects falling into this category may include the construction of railways and motorways, as well as municipal parks. The main opposition Civic Democrat party and a centre-right government coalition party have spoken out against the bill.

Second 'We don't talk to Communists' protest concert to be staged on Sunday

About a dozen Czech rock bands will play for a benefit concert this Sunday for the "We don't talk to Communists" group which is calling for the Communist party to be declared illegal. Writer and former dissident Petr Placak, one of the event's organisers, told journalists on Tuesday that in addition to the concerts, several avant-garde theatre groups would also stage productions. The event will take place in an abandoned former factory in Prague's Karlin district, close to the city centre. A "We don't talk to communists" concert was first performed last year, on November 17, the anniversary of the brutal intervention by communist police against a peaceful students' demonstration in Prague in 1989, which led to the so-called Velvet Revolution.

Doctors' union to strike ahead of regional elections if government rejects pay hike demands

The Doctor's Trade Union is threatening to strike the week before this autumn's regional elections unless the government agrees to a larger pay increase and an independent wage scale system. The chairman of the doctors' union said the timing of the strike was meant to increase pressure on the government. Health-care workers and other state employees are seeking at least a 7 per cent pay hike while the government is offering a 4 per cent increase. The unions say that 2004 marked the first time in six years that health-care workers' incomes fell in real terms.

Finance Ministry lowers proposed budget deficit

The Finance Ministry has announced it has tightened spending in next year's state budget draft to lower the projected deficit for 2005 by roughly one billion crowns, or around 35 million euros. The ministry made the announcement ahead of this Tuesday's government meeting on the state budget.

Temelin reactor, shut down due to fault in cooling system, to remain offline at least one week

A fault in the cooling system at the Temelin nuclear power station, which prompted authorities to shut down a reactor on Monday, will take at least a week to fix, a plant spokesman said. It was the second reactor shut down in a month.

Weather

Scattered rain is expected to continue on Wednesday, but temperatures should drop slightly, with daytime highs reaching 18 degrees Celsius.

21-09-2004