Daily news summary News of Radio Prague

21-01-2004

New demerit points system approved for Czech drivers

The Czech government has approved a new demerit points system for drivers that should discourage reckless driving and lower the number of accidents on Czech roads. According to the bill amendment two serious transgressions committed by drivers would be enough to see them lose their licence. The new system will rely on twelve demerit points, whereby those who reach the 12-point mark will automatically lose their licence, while having to pay an extensive fine. According to the proposal drivers, for example, caught drinking at the wheel will automatically lose 7 points. The bill amendment also describes - in detail - protocol for remanding licences, as well as outlining maximum fines for various offences. If approved by Parliament the bill will come into effect on May 1st, the day the Czech Republic joins the European Union.

Police move against extortionist gang

Fifteen members of an alleged extortionist gang were arrested in a major sweep by Czech police on Tuesday. Among those detained was a Czech national whose Prague-based firm, MG Security, is believed to have been used as a front for the gang involved in the extortion of up to 30 million crowns. Accomplices include three asylum seekers said to rank highly as leaders of the Chechen mafia operating on Czech soil. Eleven of those taken into custody have since been released without charges. Police say they are continuing to search for a fifth suspect still at large.

Klaus ill, will not attend Davos forum

Czech President Vaclav Klaus has decided to cancel plans to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, due to illness. The president's spokesman made the announcement Wednesday, saying the president had come down with a virus and needed a few days rest. 62 year-old Mr Klaus became president last year, succeeding Vaclav Havel, who suffered a string of serious respiratory illnesses while in office. However, Mr Klaus is generally considered to be in good health, active in sports such as tennis and downhill skiing. His position at the Davos forum would have been largely ceremonial; Mr Klaus has regularly attended Davos in the past, visited by other world leaders as well as businessmen.

Interior and defence ministries will be given the right to trade in arms

The Czech government has approved a proposal giving the ministries of defence and interior the right to deal in arms. During its session on Tuesday, it approved an amendment to the law on international trade with military material that gives the two ministries the right on reserved occasions. One such occasion would be when trade in arms served to protect the state. Until now the state has had to use broker companies to trade in military material abroad, which was not always advantageous. The current law stipulates military material can only be traded by legal entities based in the Czech Republic, such as foreign trade companies with necessary licences.

Czech Senate approves new presidential pension

Following an earlier decision by the Chamber of Deputies, the Czech Senate approved a bill on Wednesday that will set the presidential pension at 100, 000 crowns per month. Half that sum will go directly to former presidents, while the other 50, 000 will go towards expenses such as maintaining an office after leaving power. The bill, which for the time being would affect only former president Vaclav Havel, must now be signed by Mr Havel's successor Vaclav Klaus.

Famous actress wins case against interior ministry

Well-known Czech actress Jirina Bohdalova, who filed a law suit against the interior ministry last year for including her name on a list of agents of the Communist-era secret police, or the STB, has won her case in court. However, a loophole in the law says the ministry can not be forced to remove Mrs Bohdalova's name and requires only that a link to the court's verdict be marked on record. Mrs Bohdalova commented to reporters after the verdict that she could not understand how the Czech justice system could allow for her to be guilty on paper, even after she had been proven innocent.

Weather

Thursday is expected to be cloudy with daytime temperatures of - 3 degrees Celsius.

21-01-2004