Czech Television and the internet news server Aktualne.cz have reported that Czech fugitive billionaire Radovan Krejcir was detained in the Seychelles for illegal arms possession but was later released. Radovan Krejcir fled the Czech Republic in 2005 to avoid prosecution in a number of criminal cases, including conspiracy for murder. He has lived with his family in the Seychelles ever since.
The centre-right coalition cabinet of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek faces
a crucial vote of confidence on Friday which it hopes will end a
seven-month period without a stable government resulting from inconclusive
elections. The governing coalition of the Civic Democrats, the Christian
Democrats and the Green Party has exactly 100 votes in the 200-seat lower
house but two MPs from the Social Democratic Party had agreed to enable
the government to win Friday's vote by not taking part in it.
This is the second chance for Mr Topolanek to form a cabinet after his first minority Civic Democrat government failed a confidence vote in October. The coalition government has set itself an ambitious series of targets, such as to reform public spending and the pension and healthcare systems, but it is unlikely to find majority support for its goals in the chamber.
The European Court of Justice has ruled the Czech Republic is breaching EU law regarding recognition of qualification of medical doctors and dentists. The court upheld an earlier decision by the European Commission which will now decide on further steps against the Czech Republic. The EU criticises the fact that doctors and dentists from other EU countries working in the Czech Republic for a short period of time need to register with the Czech medical chamber while under EU legislation they only need certificates from their home countries.
Culture Minister Helena Trestikova says she is ready to resign from her post if she is forced to appoint Frantisek Formanek as her deputy. Mrs Trestikova said she had refused to appoint him earlier as she had chosen another candidate for the post. Mrs Trestikova said on Thursday she understood that the current political negotiations were complex but she was not willing to sacrifice her honour and dignity in order to keep her post.
The coalition government led by Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek approved
on Wednesday its policy statement with which it will ask the Chamber of
Deputies for a vote of confidence. Deputy prime minister Petr Necas
made the announcement during the government session on Wednesday
without giving further details. The centre-right coalition made-up of
the Civic Democrats, the Christian Democrats and Greens has included in
the document concessions agreed with Social Democrat deputies Milos
Melcak and Michal Pohanka in return for tolerance for the government.
In agreement with the MPs, the government has pledged, for example, not to raise taxes but to introduce tax reform that will be advantageous for all income groups. The government is also to draw up a new bill on non-profit hospitals that will guarantee the existence of teaching hospitals based on the non-profit principle.
The Social Democrats say they are ready to monitor the property situation of MPs Milos Melcak and Michal Pohanka not only in the near future but even after five or ten years. Party leader Jiri Paroubek made the statement on Thursday, one day ahead of a crucial confidence vote in the lower house. Social Democrat MPs Melcak and Pohanka said earlier they were prepared to enable the centre-right coalition government of Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek to win confidence in Friday's vote. The Social Democrats have made allegations of corruption.
The CTK news agency reports that the Social Democratic Party might be facing bankruptcy. Prague lawyer Zdenek Altner says he has filed a bankruptcy petition saying the party owes him 18 billion crowns (or 850 million US dollars) for his services in a legal dispute over the ownership of the party's Prague headquarters. The amount demanded includes interest and sanctions. The party has not commented on the report.
In related news, Mr Paroubek admitted in an on-line interview on Wednesday that following Friday's vote the Social Democrats will be tough in the opposition in the lower house. In the interview Mr Paroubek repeated earlier criticisms but also extended blame to the country's president, Vaclav Klaus. Mr Paroubek criticised the president for twice naming Mirek Topolanek prime minister in the efforts to form a government, one that Mr Paroubek has said, following Tuesday's events, would now be founded on blackmail and betrayal. He said that he would recommend Social Democrat deputies not to back Mr Klaus in his expected bid for re-election next year.
The Civic Democratic Party's executive body has assessed a report by Prime
Minister Mirek Topolanek outlining preparation for Friday's confidence vote
in the Chamber of Deputies, and praised steps taken by party negotiators.
The news was made public Wednesday evening by the party's first deputy
chairman Pavel Bem. On Wednesday the body also approved the policy
statement of the coalition government, including a number of last-minute
changes, concessions to the two rebel Social Democrat MPs who have agreed
to leave the chamber during Friday's vote.
The development marks a turn-around in fortunes for the prime minister who faced criticism from some Civic Democrats in recent weeks. Mr Bem stressed that Mr Topolanek had broad support from the party leadership. He himself was one of Mr Topolanek's more prominent critics concerning efforts at forming a coalition government with the Christian Democrats and the Greens. On Wednesday Mr Bem expressed confidence all Civic Democrats would vote in favour of the centre-right cabinet during Friday's vote.
Poll: Bem, Parkanova most popular politicians
A new poll released by the STEM agency has suggested that Prague Mayor Pavel Bem and Defence Minister Vlasta Parkanova currently top public popularity. Mrs Parkanova and Mr Bem were rated favourably by 63 percent of those queried, followed by Jiri Cunek, the head of the Christian Democratic Party, and Martin Bursik, leader of the Greens. Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek was seventh on the list with 38 percent favourability, while Social Democrat leader Jiri Paroubek was tenth. Communist Party leader Vojtech Filip rounded out the bottom of the list, finishing twelfth.
The AFP news agency has reported that a court in the region of Olomouc
has confirmed that a Czech hospital in the east of the country should
apologise to a 24-year-old Romany woman for having sterilized her
without her consent. At the same time, the court also ruled she is not
entitled to compensation. The landmark case is the first of around
eighty complaints submitted by Romany women who say they were
sterilized without permission. The latest ruling confirmed an earlier
decision in November against which both the hospital and the Romany
woman, Helena Ferencikova, appealed.
Mrs Ferencikova was sterilized in 2001 at a hospital without consent after giving birth to her second child. Hospital doctors said that it carried out in the interests of the patient's health and that she had signed a letter of agreement. But, Mrs Ferencikova has said she was only given the document to sign when she was already in the throes of birthing pains.
She had been asking for compensation of one million crowns, (the equivalent of around 45,000 US dollars). The court has sought guidance from the Supreme Court on whether or not she may entitled to financial compensation for moral damages suffered.