New criminal code to revolutionise Czech law
It's being described as a revolution in Czech criminal law. On Wednesday the lower house approved sweeping changes to the criminal code, covering everything from the age of criminal responsibility to the possession of magic mushrooms. There was a stormy debate in parliament over the new code, which must still be approved by the Senate and signed by the president.
However the new criminal code also covers the things 14-year olds can do, as well as the things they can't; if passed, 14 year olds will be able to legally have sexual intercourse, at present the age of consent is 15 years.
The new code would also raise the upper limit for murder from 15 to 20 years in prison and the special sentence for particularly appalling crimes would be increased from 25 to 30 years in prison. There would also be harsher sentences for people who attack paramedics, again after a series of high profile cases. And there would be a lower sentence for euthanasia; the new criminal code would make mercy killing a special offence punishable by a maximum of six years in prison, at the moment it's treated as murder.
There are also a whole range of completely new criminal offences, which, sadly perhaps, reflect today's society; possession of child pornography, prostitution near a school, drink driving, cloning of human beings, wiretapping and even damaging the financial interests of the European Community. As for magic mushrooms, possession of a small number - up to 25 - would no longer be a criminal offence.