Daily news summary
President Zeman vetoes conflict of interests bill
President Miloš Zeman has vetoed a conflict of interests bill designed to rein in potential conflicts of interests among public officials. The bill would ban ministers from media ownership and would bar companies where ministers have more than a 25-percent stake from receiving state subsidies, taking part in public tenders and accessing investment aid. The legislation was set to have a major impact on finance minister and ANO leader Andrej Babiš, whose many business and media interests have long come under fire from opponents and anti-corruption activists. The president’s spokesperson said Mr. Zeman had numerous reservations to the law which he considered to be in violation of the constitutional order. It is expected that the president’s veto will be overturned by the lower house.
President Zeman invites Pope Francis to Prague
President Milos Zeman has invited Pope Francis to visit the Czech Republic. In a congratulatory telegram on the occasion of the Pope’s 80th birthday, Mr. Zeman spoke highly of the head of the Catholic Church, saying that while the Czech Republic was regarded as an atheist country the Pope was held in high regard by Czechs and viewed as a moral authority. Mr. Zeman said it would give him great pleasure to welcome Pope Francis in Prague. The Czech President was received in the Vatican last year.
Tougher law on terrorism signed into force
President Zeman has signed into force a tougher new law on terrorism. Under the new legislation expressing public support for a terrorist act will be a crime punishable by three to twelve years in prison. Aiding or financing terrorist activities will also merit tougher punishment than in the past. Newly, the threat of a terrorist act will also be judged as a crime. The amendment reflects the present international situation and is in line with legislative changes made in other EU member states.
Collection of DNA samples to be governed by law
The collecting and filing of DNA samples by police should in future be governed by law, according to an amendment to the law approved by the government on Monday. At present the decision whether or not to collect a sample and file it is in the hands of the police, a state of affairs that has been criticized by human rights activists and NGOs as potentially dangerous. A database of DNA samples was established in 2002 and it now contains over 200,000 samples. The draft law will now go to the lower house for debate.
Motorways directorate head says no danger from new D8 section
The general director of the state roads and motorways authority, Jan Kroupa, has said there is no danger from using the newly opened D8 motorway from Prague to Dresden. Kroupa, interviewed on Czech Radio Monday,said the ground at a problem section of the motorway is being monitored continuously and there are signs that instability is decreasing. A major landslide at the section delayed completion of the motorway, which was opened Saturday, with expensive consolidation work carried out afterwards. One lane of the motorway is still closed as a temporary measure.
Tuesday should be partly cloudy to overcast with snow or sleet showers and day temperatures between -1 and 3 degrees Celsius. Night time lows between 0 and – 4 degrees.