Daily news summary News

19-04-2006

Czech Republic expels Cuban attache

The Czech Republic has expelled the Cuban attaché to Prague, refusing to extend his visa. Havana did the same to Czech diplomat Stanislav Kazecky last week. Mr Kazecky was accused of subversive activities and work for the USA, by the Castro regime. The Czech Foreign Ministry has dismissed the accusation. The expelling of the Cuban attaché leaves the number of Cuban diplomats in Prague at two. Likewise, two Czech diplomats have remained in Cuba since Mr Kazecky's departure.

Public to gain access to hospital and health insurance information and statistics

The Chamber of Deputies has passed a bill that will allow the public to access information and statistics from health insurance companies as well as hospitals. Under the legislation individuals will be able to gain information about, for example, the cost of treatment of illnesses as well as the number of operations performed by hospitals and length of patients' stay. Under the law, health insurance companies will be bound to inform patients in cases where doctors have made mistakes - as well as to publish their own statistics. The bill will now come up in the Senate and must be passed there as well as signed by the president before taking effect.

Regional authorities leave Luznice 'danger' warning in effect

Authorities in southern Bohemia have decided to leave in effect a danger warning related to recent flooding along the region's Luznice River. Regional governor Jan Zahradnik first declared the alert on March 30th, following extensive floods. Water levels have since receded substantially and the situation has stabilised, but the governor has decided to leave the alert in effect - until close to the end of April. Places that come under the warning include areas around Tabor and Jindrichuv Hradec. The governor indicated on Wednesday that it was still necessary to deal with flood damages in areas hardest hit.

Far more Romany ghettos than previously estimated, finds report

There are far more Romany ghettos in the Czech Republic than the official estimate, says Ivan Gabal, a sociologist who is preparing a report for the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. While the government Council for Romany Affairs says that there are at most a few dozen Romany ghettos, Mr Gabal has told the Czech newspaper Lidove noviny his research indicates there are many more: around 330. In his view, districts, individual streets or even single apartment buildings can be classified as ghettos, if the inhabitants live in poverty and on the margins of society.

Chamber rejects bill - including ban on smoking in restaurants

A bill amendment put forward by Christian Democrat MP Josef Janecek banning smoking in Czech restaurants, has not found necessary approval in the Chamber of Deputies. The amendment was put forward on the back of another bill on insolvency, not thematically-related. The ban was included in order to try and see it passed ahead of upcoming general elections. Current legislation in the Czech Republic bans smoking in public places like tram or bus stops, but not in restaurants; MP Janecek - a long-time opponent of smoking - has pledged to continue pushing for such a ban until he meets with success.

Turkish court orders release of Czechs held for smuggling heroin

A Turkish court has ordered the release of two Czechs in their thirties accused of smuggling heroin in Turkey. They will be allowed to return home this week. The two men - held for almost two years - were found guilty on Wednesday by the court and sentenced to more than six years in prison. But, the court took into account their time spent in custody and good behaviour and waived the remainder of their sentences. The two men were originally caught on the Greek-Turkish border with some 26 kilograms of heroin hidden in their vehicle. Both maintained their innocence, saying that they had been hired to transport textiles and were unaware of the hidden drugs. Czech authorities have backed the mens' innocence, and the case also caught the attention of Czech President Vaclav Klaus.

Minister recommends Czech Railways sue makers of fault-ridden train

The transport minister, Milan Simonovsky, has recommended that Czech Railways sue the makers of the Pendolino, the Czech Republic's first high speed train. It has had numerous problems since it was introduced on the line between Prague and the north Moravian city of Ostrava in December. Czech Railways bought seven of the Italian-made trains for almost 200 million US dollars.

Poll suggests Christian Democrats' support at 4.9 percent

The polling agency STEM has released the results of a poll suggesting that if the elections were held today, the Christian Democrats might not make into Parliament. According to the survey, only 4.9 percent of voters in April would have cast their ballot in favour of the Christian Democrats. That is 0.1 percent short of the 5 percent threshold necessary to reach to be elected to Czech Parliament.

By contrast, the STEM poll results vary strongly from a recent poll conducted by Factum Invenio showing the Christian Democrats' support at double-digits: 12.3 percent.

Police officer found in flood waters was killed by bullet - did not drown

An autopsy has confirmed that a 37-year-old police officer found dead in the Svratka River did not drown in recent floods - as was previously thought - but was shot. The man was last seen alive on an embankment on April 3rd. It is unclear whether he took his own life or was murdered. It has not yet been ascertained whether the bullet was from the officer's own gun - or someone else's.

Jagr fails to top points list as regular NHL season ends

The Czech ice hockey star Jaromir Jagr has failed to rack-up additional points in the NHL this season, meaning he finishes 2nd on the overall leaders list. Final NHL games wrapped up on Tuesday. Jagr had recently led on the table, which combines points from goals and assists but was overtaken in the last few games before the playoffs. His one assist in New York Rangers 5 - 1 defeat of Los Angeles on Tuesday was not enough to regain the lead. Jagr finishes with 123, just 2 points behind Joe Thornton of the San Jose Sharks.

Weather

Sunshine has been forecast throughout most of the week with daytime temperatures reaching highs of up to 21 degrees Celsius.

19-04-2006