Deputies in the lower house have votes to strip former defence minister Vlasta Parkanová of her immunity, opening the way for prosecution. The motion was supported by 117 of the 176 MPs present with 45 against. Ms Parkanová is suspected of abuse of public office and breach of trust in connection with a questionable 3.5 billion crown purchase of CASA military transport planes while she served as defence minister in 2009. Independent assessments have spoken for and against the former defence minister. Ms Parkanová herself has said her conscience is clear. Since 1993, 18 MPs have been stripped of immunity at the request of the police, with the current parliament having given up a record five.
The lower house of Parliament has started another round of approval for the government’s church restitution plan. Culture Minister Alena Hanáková responded to some of the points of criticism from the previous three rounds of debate, noting among other things that the Constitutional Court had confirmed the churches’ right of ownership to the properties in question. The last vote on the issue failed due to procrastination tactics employed by the opposition parties. Under the draft legislation, the Czech state would return some 56% of the physical property worth around 75 billion crowns; for the rest, Czech churches and religious societies would receive some 60 billion crowns in compensation over a period of 30 years.
Czechs can buy increasingly less goods and services for their wages. The Czech Statistical Office reports that inflation grew by 0.3% to 3.5% in June with a particular rise in the price of foodstuffs and tobacco. Analysts had expected 3.4%. Prices of vegetables rose by 18.5%, fruit by 10.4%, and eggs by 60.7%. Electricity and water prices were up by 4.2 and 12.0%, respectively. On the other hand, clothing, household appliances and home and garden tools all fell by 3.4 to 6.6%.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic fell slightly in June, down 0.1 of a point to 8.1%. Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs said Wednesday that employment offices had registered 7.5 thousand less job seekers compared to the previous month, but the number of vacancies dropped by 2%. There were nearly 43,000 vacancies, which is more than 4,000 compared to the previous year but 886 less than in the preceding month. There were an average 11.1 job seekers per vacancy in June. Analysts had expected the jobless rate to stay unchanged at May´s 8.2 percent.
The lower house on Wednesday also supported an amendment to the code of civil justice that will limit appeals made to the Supreme Court. The legislation would make appeals possible only in cases of fundamental legal significance. Justice Minister Pavel Blažek has criticised the current practice, saying the Supreme Court is overburdened. The ministry has also proposed giving the Supreme Court the authority to change the verdicts of appeals and first-instance courts.
Anthropologists and theologians are exhuming the remains of more than a dozen Franciscan monks who were killed in the early 17th century. The international group of monks are to be beatified 401 years after their deaths for their role in defending Catholicism in Protestant Prague. Experts will be studying the condition of their remains before removing specimens to be deposited in reliquaries in St. Vitus Cathedral and the Church of Our Lady of the Snows. The 14 men were killed by mercenaries of the Archduke of Austria, Leopold V, in 1611. The beatification ceremony, which has been in preparation for more than 300 years, should take place on October 13 in St. Vitus Cathedral.
The Education Ministry has been fined roughly half a million crowns for its publication of sensitive data on Roma scholarship recipients last year. The names, dates of birth and addresses of nearly 900 Roma students went up on the ministry’s website in November, alongside 181 schools who received 4.4 million for the students. The Office for the Protection of Personal Information handed down a 450,000 fine. Then-minister Josef Dobeš fired an official over the incident and filed a lawsuit.
Police are investigating anti-communist activist Jan Šinágl for denying Nazi war crimes, a crime that carries a sentence of up to three years in prison. The charges relate to two articles that Mr Šinágl posted on his website last year in which he writes, among other things, that the assassination of leading Nazi Reinhard Heydrich was carried out against the will of the Czech resistance and that hundreds or even thousands of people had informed on the assassins. He also wrote that the number of people who lost their lives under Heydrich’s government was only a fraction of those killed in post-war atrocities and under Communist rule. The author himself says he only wanted to point out crime committed by Czechs themselves, which are often overlooked or trivialised.
Damages reported to insurance companies from July’s storms are continuing to grow, and are reaching half a billion crowns. Windstorms, flooding, lightening and hail over the last two weeks have done particular damage to roofs and automobiles and have caused fires. The insurance company Česká pojišťovna has registered 4429 claims worth 190 million crowns, Kooperativa 2200 claims worth 115 million.
The annual Bohemia Jazz Fest kicked off on Wednesday with a concert of the Miroslav Hloucal Quartet and the Australian duo The Baker Suite at Valdštejn Gardens in Prague. Thus began the seventh year of what Down Beat magazine has called the biggest free jazz party in Europe. Concerts will also take place on the historic town squares of seven other Czech cities.
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