News

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PM says his government did not try to thwart police investigations

Czech Prime Minister Jiri Paroubek has rejected charges that top government officials have been hampering the work of the country's elite organized crime unit, saying that the accusations were part of an election smear campaign. Late on Monday Jan Kubice, head of the elite unit for fighting organized crime, told a parliamentary committee that Paroubek and other top officials had hindered his unit's work in order to shield Social Democrat colleagues and that criminals had infiltrated the civil service. Evidence supporting the charges was not made public. The PM called a press briefing in Prague on Tuesday to deny the allegations telling journalists that the opposition Civic Democrats had fabricated the charges to swing voters ahead of the poll.

President wants unbiased investigation

President Vaclav Klaus has said he is seriously concerned about the information submitted by the head of the elite organized crime unit and expects an immediate and unbiased investigation. The President's spokesman said that Mr. Klaus did not want to interfere in such a sensitive case so close to the elections but that immediately after them he would ask to be informed about progress on the case.

Another MP physically attacked outside his home

Miroslav Vana an MP for the ruling Social Democrats was assaulted by an unknown attacker outside his home in Pardubice on Monday night. Vana suffered a head injury and was bruised and shaken by the incident. He says he did not see the attacker, only heard footsteps behind him and felt a blow to the head before falling down unconscious. This is the second physical attack against an MP in recent weeks. The first was against communist party MP Jiri Dolejs who was beaten up by unknown attackers at the end of April. He sustained head and eye injuries and said he was convinced it was a politically motivated attack.

Education Ministry refuses to withdraw controversial textbook

The Education Ministry has refused to withdraw a textbook for eighth graders which has been severely criticized by the Church. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk called for its withdrawal earlier this week saying that excerpts from Francois Cavanna's work The Holy Scripture ridiculed the Bible. The ministry said that it saw no reason to withdraw the textbook and pointed out that the Czech Bishops Conference had seen and approved it before its publication. The publishing house Fraus which issued the book said the excerpts are used to illustrate travesty as a literary style.

Students protest against sale of St. Michael's Church

A group of students gathered in the Old Town at noon on Tuesday to protest against the sale of St. Michael's Church. The art history students and some of their professors marched from the cultural monument in the city's Old Town district to the ministry of culture and the government headquarters. St. Michael's Church came into private ownership last year but the sale has not been without controversy. Some experts in the cultural sector say the church should have been sold at a higher price; others say the sales contract is not binding and that the church is still the property of the state.

Anti-drug squad bust ecstasy gang

Detectives from the national anti-drug squad have busted a gang that is suspected of organizing the sale of ecstasy at discos in the centre of Prague. Three Israeli nationals have been taken into custody and charged with illegal production and sale of drugs. The police confiscated thousands of ecstasy tables as well as cocaine, marihuana and LSD.

President Klaus orders Fiala's release from custody

President Vaclav Klaus has ordered the release from custody of Jiri Fiala, a candidate for the Party of Common Sense in the upcoming parliamentary elections. Fiala has been charged with attacking a public figure and questioning the independence of the court over a case involving his paternity rights. Fiala has filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights on the grounds that he has been denied access to his children. President Klaus said all candidates in the elections should have an equal chance to address voters and asked the authorities to conduct the investigation without keeping Fiala in custody.

Weather:

Wednesday is expected to be overcast and rainy with day temperatures between 10 and 14 degrees Celsius.