An Azerbaijani political refugee who was arrested on a brief visit to his homeland has been allowed to return to the Czech Republic. Professor Sadai Nazarov, who was granted political asylum in Czech Republic in 1997, returned to his homeland in January to visit his ailing father. He was arrested on treason charges and spent over three months in detention. His release was secured after weeks of intense diplomatic negotiations, when the Azerbaijani authorities agreed to halt legal proceedings against Nazarov. The 58 year old dissident arrived at Prague's Ruzyne airport in relatively good health and was met by family and friends.
Support for the new government of Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek remains uncertain, with five Social Democratic Party deputies unwilling to accept the new government set up. The old-new government must ask for a vote of confidence in the lower house within 30 days of taking office and with its slim majority in Parliament the three party coalition needs the support of all its deputies. The opposition Civic Democrats and the Communists have said they will not support the new Cabinet. The five Social Democratic Party deputies whose vote is uncertain, say they would like to strengthen their party's influence in certain areas of government. Behind the scenes negotiations continue.
The government has rejected the Civic Democratic Party's proposal of a one-off referendum bill on the EU Constitution. The three governing parties have produced their own referendum bill which is far broader and would enable a referendum to be held on any vital issues relating to the country's future. Both proposals will be debated in Parliament. The approval of either of those bills would open the door for Czechs to vote on the European Constitution. Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has said that the ratification of the EU Constitution is a top priority. The new Cabinet is expected to launch an information campaign on the EU Constitution within a matter of weeks. President Vaclav Klaus has already come out strongly against its ratification, publishing a brochure in which he enumerates all the possible pitfalls.
A police officer has received a two year suspended sentence for shooting at a pedestrian crossing a street on a red light. The incident happened on a busy Pilsen crossing, where the officer is said to have fired three shots at a pedestrian who ignored his calls to stop. One of the bullets hit a passing car. The police never traced the pedestrian. The officer in question said he had fired the shots because he suspected that the man in question was a sought after criminal. He was found guilty of abuse of power and presenting a public threat and has been banned from working in the police force for a period of five years.
Thursday is expected to be sunny to partly cloudy with temperatures between 13 and 17 degrees Celsius.
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