News

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Police heads removed from office following May Day beating

Heads will roll in connection with last week's police action against the head of the government's human rights section, Katerina Jacques, the Czech Police chief Vladislav Husak announced on Wednesday. Ms Jacques, a candidate for the opposition Green Party in the upcoming parliamentary elections, says she was beaten by a police officer when she refused to stop protesting against a May Day neo-Nazi demonstration in the Prague 2 district. The police officer will most likely be charged with the abuse of power, causing bodily harm, and limiting personal freedoms.

As of May 15, the head of the Prague 2 police headquarters and his deputy will no longer hold their posts; disciplinary proceedings against the representative of the Prague Police have been launched. The incident has also cost police president Husak his promotion to the rank of General. Police psychologists will be present at all major operations in order to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Government approves Hyundai investment agreement

Cabinet has approved a proposed contract with the South Korean car manufacturer Hyundai, which intends to invest up to one billion euros in a new car plant in the Moravian town of Nosovice. In the draft agreement, the state binds itself to support the plant's construction with a 2.4 billion crown donation between 2007 and 2013. The state also offers an investment incentive of up to 2.5 billion crowns to create work places and upgrade skills of the work force. Hyundai can also expect tax leverage of up to 1.3 billion crowns. If approved by Hyundai's board of directors, Trade and Industry Minister Milan Urban will sign the agreement in Seoul in mid-May.

Two CKA executive board members sacked over missing millions

Cabinet has removed two executive board members of the state bail-out agency, Ceska Konsolidacni Agentura (CKA), from their posts. The dismissal has come in reaction to a recent CKA financial scandal in which half a billion crowns (close to 21 million US dollars) disappeared from the accounts of the company's subsidiary IMOB. The money was secretly transferred to a Swiss bank by IMOB director Jan Sik.

Mr Sik has been relieved of all posts and is under investigation for fraud and embezzlement. The IMOB supervisory board chairman has also resigned, though stressing he knew nothing of Mr Sik's plans. The two CKA executive board members have been dismissed for failing to prevent the transaction.

MEP: no EU constitution referendum if opposition Civic Democrats win elections

If the opposition right-of-centre Civic Democrats win the upcoming elections, they will freeze ratification of the European Union constitution and seek a new deal giving Germany less voting power, the party's MEP in Brussels, Jan Zahradil, has told the Reuters news agency. Mr Zahradil, who defines his party's stance as "pro-European, but anti-federalist" and may become the country's foreign minister if his party wins the June 2-3 elections, says Europe needs a more flexible set-up than the draft constitution offers. Only if the Dutch and the French, who voted against the draft constitution, change their mind might there be a vote on the treaty in the Czech Republic, Mr Zahradil believes.

Lower house rejects bill on property declarations

The lower house has rejected a bill on compulsory property declarations for people with assets over 10 million crowns (417,000 dollars). The bill, put forward by the Communist Party, was rejected by the right-of-centre parties in parliament as well as the Social Democrats who say they are preparing their own version to push through after the upcoming elections. Only 38 out of the 107 MPs present voted for the bill.

Tragic death of 14-year old boy in Moravia

A 14 year-old boy died tragically on Tuesday evening during an attempt to clear a football field in order to mow the lawn. After a game of football, in the south Moravian village of Velke Opatovice, the boy and his team mates tried to move the goal posts when they suddenly lost their grip on the heavy iron posts. The boy was hit on the head and died on the spot.

President Klaus receives honorary doctorate

President Vaclav Klaus has received an honorary doctorate from London's City University. At the ceremony on Wednesday, Mr Klaus said he views this distinction as an appreciation of the Czech Republic as a whole. In a modern world full of e-mail, SMS messaging, and misleading headlines, Mr Klaus says, universities are essential because they offer an environment for constructive criticism and sober and educated debate. During his visit to London, the Czech President also met with the newly elected British Conservative Party leader, David Cameron.

State offers one-off compensation to flood victims

The state has decided to offer all those who lost their homes to this year's floods a one-off sum of 150,000 crowns (a little over 6,800 US dollars) in compensation. The state will also help cover demolition costs, the Czech government decided on Wednesday. Most of the houses destroyed lie in southern Bohemia, a Regional Development Ministry assessment says. The compensation will be taken out of a 5 billion crown budget earmarked for flood relief by cabinet earlier this year.

Weather

The coming days should be mostly sunny with daytime temperatures around 20 degrees Celsius.