Czech senate strips Christian Democrat leader Jiri Cunek of parliamentary immunity
The Czech senate has stripped Christian Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Jiri Cunek of his parliamentary immunity so that he can face criminal prosecution on corruption charges. Police suspect Mr Cunek of taking a bribe of half-a-million crowns from a real estate company five years ago when he was mayor of the east Moravian town of Vsetin. Mr Cunek denies the charges, but has so far issued conflicting statements regarding the origin of the money.
Government blocks parliamentary discussion of EU constitution and proposed radar base
An extraordinary session of parliament, which was meant to discuss the draft European constitution and a proposed US radar base in the Czech Republic, has been cancelled. The scheduled sitting ended in acrimony after the centre-right governing coalition blocked the approval of the meeting agenda. Opposition Social Democrat and Communist MPs say the development is proof that the government is trying to stifle debate in parliament. Civic Democrat prime minister Mirek Topolanek has rejected the accusation, saying that it was simply too early to begin discussions on the EU constitution and the proposed radar base.
One in two Czechs opposed to radar base even in exchange for cancellation of US visas
Around half of all Czechs are against the construction of a US radar base in the Czech Republic even in return for visa-free travel to America, according to a new poll. The survey carried out by the RCA research agency says that 31% of the population would accept the base on Czech territory if it meant they no longer had to apply for visas to go to the US. In South Bohemia where proposed base would be located, only 12% of the local population are in favour of the facility.
Judge suspended for drunkenness returns to work
A Czech judge who had been relieved of her duties for repeated drunkenness will be allowed to return to work again Mlada fronta Dnes reports. The daily says that disciplinary proceedings against Judge Jana Sladkova - who had been suspended from her job for coming to work in a drunken state on a number of occasions - have been discontinued. The reason the proceedings have been stopped is because Judge Sladkova has now voluntarily tendered her own resignation. Under Czech law, she is entitled to return to the court where she works in Rokycany, west Bohemia and hear cases while she is seeing out her notice period of three months. Ms Sladkova will also receive one half of the wages she was deprived of during the disciplinary process.
Hyundai plant in Nosovice to be postponed, Pravo reports
The Pravo daily reports today that South Korean car maker Hyundai has decided to delay the construction of its car plant in Nosovice, Moravia after its chairman Chung Mong-koo was sentenced to three years in prison for embezzlement. A spokesman for Hyundai's Czech branch, has denied the claim, saying that only the opening ceremony for the plant has been postponed, not the actual construction. The planned car-manufacturing facility should provide jobs for around 2900 people when it enters its mass production phase in 2009, and make around 200,000 cars a year.
Nuclear protesters to blockade Czech-Austrian border over Temelin
A radical Austrian anti-nuclear group announced on Wednesday that it will be blockading a Czech-Austrian border crossing in protest at the Temelín nuclear power plant on February 14. The Atomstopp Oberösterreich organisation says it will be holding a blockade at the Wullowitz-Dolni Dvoriste frontier crossing for an alleged failure to observe a Czech-Austrian treaty on nuclear safety. The controversial Temelín nuclear plant has been a sore point in Czech-Austrian relations since it began operating six years ago. Many in Austria claim that that the facility's Soviet design makes it more likely to experience a Chernobyl-style meltdown.
Forestry worker killed by falling tree in south Bohemia
A forestry worker was killed on Wednesday while working in a wood near Pejkov in south Bohemia. The man died when a tree fell on him. The incident happened just two days after a ban on entering forests due to the risk of falling trees had been lifted. People had been prohibited from entering woodlands following a massive windstorm in mid-January, which caused extensive damage. The man is the third person to die in Czech forests since they suffered major damage in last month's storm.
Second policeman to be prosecuted in connection with sale of Svoboda photo
The Ministry of the Interior has said it wants to prosecute a second police officer in connection with the sale of a photograph of the dead body of popular composer Karel Svoboda to a tabloid newspaper. After Mr Svoboda apparently shot himself last Sunday a photo appeared in the Blesk redtop showing the dead man's hand and a pistol. Another 22-year old officer has already been dismissed from the police force and charged with abuse of office in connection with the incident. If convicted he faces up to 3 years in prison.
Senate approves deployment of field hospital in Afghanistan
The Senate today approved the deployment the Czech field hospital to Afghanistan for 12 months as part of a NATO peace-keeping mission in the country. Although the deployment has yet to be discussed by the lower house, it has the support of both the centre-right coalition government and the main opposition Social Democrat party. Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova (Christian Democrats, KDU-CSL) said that some of the costs of deploying the hospital - estimated to be 150 million Czech crowns or just under 7 million US dollars -would be covered by NATO.
The next few days should be partly cloudy to overcast with occasional rain or snow and daytime temperatures of between 1 and 5 degrees Celsius.