A court in Brno has continued hearing a complex case of child abuse which has shocked the Czech Republic. One of the victims in the case, Ondřej has given testimony, stating that he was often caged and beaten with a bamboo pole by his mother. Barbora Škrlová, one of five defendants in the case has given tearful testimony alleging that she was sexually abused, while also admitting her involvement in physical abuse against the young boy and his ten year old brother Jakub from the town of Kuřim. The abuse came to light last year after a neighbour picked up a signal from a child minding video device in the flat of Klára Mauerová; it showed that one of her sons, aged seven, was being kept naked in appalling conditions in a cupboard. It is also suspected that several other defendants took part in the abuse of the children. In the wake of that discovery, it emerged that Ms Mauerová had tried to adopt 33-year-old Barbora Škrlová in the guise of a 12-year-old girl. The alleged abusers have been linked to a sect headed by Barbora Škrlová’s father; her brother is among the accused. On Tuesday Klára Mauerová admitted to mistreating her children, saying she had been manipulated by her sister Kateřina and Barbora Škrlová into taking what she called a harsh approach to child-rearing.
Representatives from various Czech trade and labour unions have announced that they will undertake the largest demonstrations since 1990. The protests, planned for 24th June, are taking place to oppose government reform plans. The Czecho-moravian Association of Trade Unions which is leading the protests believes that planned government reforms in the fields of health, education and other arenas will damage the social and economic stability of the country. Prime Minister Topolánek has accused the trade unions of having close ties with the opposition Social Democrats.
A new opinion poll by the CVVM agency gives the opposition Social Democrats a substantial lead over the ruling Civic Democrats. According to the poll, 37% of Czechs would vote for the Social Democrats, while only 27.5% would vote for the Civic Democrats. Meanwhile, the communists would gain 15.5% of votes. The Civic Democrats have been consistently trailing in the polls for several months, which has given the opposition Social Democrats additional momentum in seeking early elections.
The premature exit of the Czech football team from Euro 2008 may prove to be costly for those that had staked that the team would do better. One such example is the television station Prima, which holds the television rights to the tournament. Following the Czech Republic’s exit from Euro 2008, advertising rates and also viewing numbers have plummeted. Sports bars and pubs expecting significant sales have also downsized their expectations. However, betting shops have revealed that the Czech loss reaped significant profits for them, with around 85% of Czechs betting on a victory against Turkey. The Czech Republic ultimately lost that game 3-2 and is now out of the championship.
According to new data from the Czech statistics Office, the rising price of food has made groceries the number one expense for most Czechs. The figures reveal that 20.5 percent of expenditures are spent on food, which is a half percent increase on 2007 figures. Coming in second at 20.4 percent are housing costs and utility bills, which led last year’s chart. However, analysts point out that the differences between the two types of expenditures remains small and could be a simple fluctuation.
Czech Television has been fined 18.5 million crowns by the oversight and regulatory body known as the Board for Radio and Television Broadcasting. The fine has been levied for what the Board deemed inadequate separation of its programming from those which feature advertising by its sponsors. Czech Television has appealed the decision.
Eyebrows were raised in the Czech parliament Wednesday when Christian Democrat minister Cyril Svoboda announced that the original Czech national emblem or coat of arms had gone missing. After MPs began to search their offices, it emerged that the seal had actually disappeared at the Czech castle. The seal, which features two birds and two lions symbolising the regions of Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia was created in 1992 by the Czech heraldist Jiří Louda.
The Czech crown has broken yet another barrier against the Euro, trading at 24 crowns to one Euro. The currency also broke a record against the dollar, trading at 15.45 crowns to the dollar. The Czech crown has been consistently strong for many months, with some analysts predicting the currency will stabilise by the end of the year.
Retired British tennis player Tim Henman has been fending off criticism for comments that Czech tennis players are a bit smelly. The comments came when Henman was asked to reveal any gossip from his years as a competitor at the Wimbledon tennis championships. Henman responded by stating “"Well, the Czechs are a bit niffy." Jan Winkler, the Czech ambassador in London expressed his irritation noting "What a surprise Tim Henman has had the time to do so much research into the smell of the male body." Henman, 33 quit the game last September.
The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, says Ireland’s no to
the Lisbon Treaty does not mean the ratification process should come to a
halt. Speaking after a meeting of EU foreign ministers, he said, however,
that the Czech Republic would have to wait for a ruling from the
Constitutional Court; it is due to say in the autumn whether the document
reforming the structure of the European Union is in line with the Czech
constitution. Minister Schwarzenberg’s position contrasts with that of
the Czech prime minister, Mirek Topolánek; he told reporters he believed
the ratification process in its current form was over.
The most vocal Czech opponent of continuing the ratification process is the Euro-sceptic president, Václav Klaus. He said Ireland’s no vote was a victory for freedom and reason, and thanked Irish voters for putting a brake on what he called top-down centralisation.