News

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Social Democrats reject whole criminal code over tunnelling omission

The Chamber of Deputies has failed to approve a new criminal code which would have radically overhauled Czech law. The governing Social Democrats decided not to support it because it dropped a provision on tunnelling (asset stripping) companies. Their decision meant the criminal code could not attain the 101 votes needed to overturn a veto by the Senate.

Justice Minister Pavel Nemec said it was short-sighted to reject legislation that had been in preparation for over a decade because of one contentious article.

Among several changes, it would have lowered the age of criminal responsibility to 14 and increased sentences for violent crimes. The Communist Party were opposed to the new code, as it would have made propagating communism a crime, while the Christian Democrats said it opened the way to the legalisation of euthanasia.

Invite Belarus opposition head to EU summit, says Svoboda

The Czech foreign minister, Cyril Svoboda, has called for the main opposition leader in Belarus, Alexander Milinkevich, to be invited to a European Union summit later this week. Mr Milinkevich received around 6 percent of the vote in Sunday's presidential election in Belarus, which was won by the autocratic incumbent Alexander Lukashenko.

The EU has described the election as neither free nor fair, and is considering stepping up sanctions against Belarus. However Minister Svoboda said he was opposed to tough sanctions: he called for more dialogue and support for the country's universities, NGOs and opposition.

The Czech president, Vaclav Klaus, said Mr Lukashenko's landslide victory confirmed his fears for democracy in Belarus.

Czech journalist beaten up in Minsk

Meanwhile, the Czech daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported one of its correspondents was badly beaten up in the centre of the capital Minsk on Sunday night. Jan Rybar suffered concussion and a broken nose during the attack; he said he believed his assailants were secret police officers. The Czech charge d'affaires in the city said he thought it was not an act of random violence.

Most child victims of road accidents not strapped into seats, wearing seatbelts

Over half of the children who died in road accidents in the Czech Republic last year were not strapped into children's seats or wearing seatbelts, according to figures released by the Central Auto Club on Tuesday. Thirty-nine children died in traffic accidents in 2005, 12 percent more than in 2004. Overall numbers of road deaths have declined in recent years.

Police officer gets eight years for drug smuggling

A court in Hradec Kralove has sentenced a former police officer to eight years in prison for drug trafficking. Pavel Krchnavy was found guilty of giving almost 9 kilos of heroin to an accomplice and giving him instructions on how to bring the drugs to Italy. The man was subsequently arrested by Italian police.

Press: university students lack language skills to study abroad

Many Czech university students are unable to benefit from study stays in other countries because their English language skills are not good enough, Lidove noviny reported on Tuesday. According to a new study quoted by the paper, only 40 percent of Czech students can read specialist English texts and 80 percent are unable to write at a sufficiently high standard.

CSA increases services to Eastern Europe in summer schedule

Czech Airlines is to increase its services to Eastern Europe from next weekend. Its summer time-table adds a new destination, Odessa, while increasing the number of flights to Zagreb, Bucharest, Ljubljana, Yerevan, Sarajevo and Yekaterinburg, Athens and Istanbul. CSA is also set to renew flights to New York's second airport, Newark.

Weather

It should be mostly cloudy over the next few days, with rain in places. Temperatures are expected to reach up to 11 degrees Celsius.