11-12-2003

Yoko Ono and Meda Mladkova, photo: CTKYoko Ono and Meda Mladkova, photo: CTK There are many interesting stories in today's dailies, not least the opening of Yoko Ono's new exhibition in Prague, a decision by the Christian Democrats to support a government commission's recommendation on buying 14 new fighter jets, and the chilling story of a prostitute who killed several clients for money - after being released from prison. Those stories all get in-depth attention on today's front pages.

But it is with LIDOVE NOVINY that we begin and a headline that reads "8 years in prison for domestic violence". On Wednesday Parliament approved a bill amendment that, for the first time recognises domestic abuse within the criminal code. Those who unleash domestic violence on their so-called loved ones will now risk facing between 1 to 3 years in prison, though violent cases or repeated incidence will see a higher sentence of up to 8 years.

The amendment, which recognises not only abuse against women (which LIDOVE NOVINY writes are 97 percent of cases), but also violence against the under-aged, seniors, and the sick, has overall been welcomed by experts and special organisations. Still, many say that significant problems remain: often cases of domestic violence go unreported, or are insufficiently investigated by police.

The amendment is generally seen as a step in the right direction, but a first step. What is needed, organisations say, is even stiffer legislation, whereby police could immediately take aggressors away from the family for up to ten days. More safe houses are also desired to provide a secure space where victims can escape their abuser's sphere of terror.

Staying with LIDOVE NOVINY - conceptual artist Yoko Ono visited Prague for the first time Wednesday for the opening of an installation of her work titled "Women's Room" at Prague's Kampa Museum. Mrs Ono, who had come down with a bad cold she blamed on a recent New York snowstorm, had never been to Prague and told journalists the only time she visited foreign cities was for work-related reasons.

LIDOVE NOVINY writes that during her stay Mrs Ono plans to visit the so-called "Lennon Wall" in the town's Lesser Town - a famous wall that used to bear the likeness of her late husband, musician John Lennon, and was used for all manners of graffiti protest under the former of communist regime. Sadly, Mr Lennon's likeness disappeared from the wall long ago.

Mrs Yoko said she had heard a lot about the wall; on Wednesday she was also reminded that in 1968 she and her husband had sent a protest against the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Soviet troops, a moment she no longer specifically remembered. Less than a year later, in 1969, she and her husband staged the famous bed-peace protest at Montreal's Queen Elizabeth Hotel. More than 30 years on Mrs Ono told Czech journalists she still dreams most about world peace.

Today's PRAVO writes that junior government members the Christian Democrats, under the leadership of newly elected party leader Miroslav Kalousek, have decided to back a recommendation by a government commission to buy 14 new Gripen fighter jets from Sweden. Speaking for his party, Mr Kalousek tells PRAVO the Christian Democrats saw no reason to counter the commission's recommendation.

Social Democrat Defence Minister Miroslav Kostelka has himself also indicated that he supported the deal, but writes PRAVO, this could create problems within government, since Prime Minister Vladimir Spidla had seemed inclined to a US offer for American F-16s. The daily writes that the American's chances of succeeding in the tender are now minimal.

Finally, here's a story that might send a shiver up your spine. PRAVO writes about black-widow-like slayings by a 39-year-old prostitute. The woman was first convicted of murder at the age of 17, after she drugged her first victim with a spiked drink and he never woke up. She was subsequently sent to prison but was given an early release. Clearly, unrepentant, she returned to her old ways and targeted two more victims in their apartments, one of them an elderly man often seen in her company. The motive in all of the cases was robbery. The 39-year-old prostitute and convicted murderer, is now in custody and awaits trial.

11-12-2003