The computer gaming community is petitioning online for the release of two programmers who are currently in prison in Greece on suspicion of espionage. The men were apparently arrested for filming a military installation on the island of Limnos, where they say they were gathering research for a game while on holiday. The situation has been complicated by the fact that Greek judicial workers are currently on strike and may remain so for another month, so the programmers’ case has been postponed indefinitely.
A new poll by the CVVM agency suggests a strong lead for the left-wing Social Democratic and Communist parties. According to the survey, the Social Democrats would win parliamentary elections handily with 31.5% of the vote. The Communist Party took second place in the poll with 21, followed by the senior governing party, the Civic Democrats, with 20.5%. The governing TOP 09 party and the Christian DEmcorats would also win seats in the lower house, with 8.5 and 6%, respectively. Fifty-seven percent of legal voters said they would participate in elections.
The Czech Police have caught the last of five men suspected of a machete attack on a bar in North Bohemia last year. The suspect was arrested in England and transferred to the Czech Republic. The prosecution says that two of the Roma men were thrown out of a pub in Nový Bor for being insulting. They later returned with three more men and attacked the patrons with machetes. Three people were injured. If convicted on charges of attempted murder and disorderly conduct they face between 12 and 20 years’ imprisonment..
Hockey legend Jaromír Jágr has played his first game in eight years in the Czech domestic league. Jágr – who is newly signed with the Dallas Stars – received the go-ahead only at the ‘last minute’ from NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, news website idnes reported. He and other players sought permission to play elsewhere in light of the current NHL lockout. Jágr is playing for his home town club of Kladno; on Tuesday the team lost 3-2 against Slavia at a game held at Prague’s O2 Arena. Jágr admitted exhaustion after the match but made clear he was glad to be playing for the Czech club.
Czech President Václav Klaus criticized the recently imposed ban on the sale of hard liquor on Wednesday calling it an “ill-advised” and “heavy-handed” move. On his visit to Italy, the president indicated that the main problem lies with the state’s inept regulation and control of alcohol production and sales. President Klaus believes that one of the sources of the current problem is that the state has levied and “absurdly high tax” on alcohol in the past, which motivated people to circumvent legal standards. Prime Minister Petr Nečas and Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek responded to the comments by reiterating their conviction that the ban was absolutely necessary to ensure public safety.
The Czech finance and agriculture ministers have come up with proposals on Wednesday that would help alleviate the ban on hard liquor that was instituted on Friday, 14 September. Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek proposed to print new excise stamps, which would be attached to newly produced or imported bottles of alcohol. The new stamps would clearly let consumers know that the alcohol has been produced or imported after the ban and that its origin has been verified. Agriculture minister Petr Bendl said he wants to introduce so-called birth certificates for liquor bottles that would make their origin and ingredients clearly traceable. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said both measures will be part of a government directive that should be ready on Thursday.
The Czech Constitutional Court ruled on Wednesday that last year’s controversial search of the Czech Television offices was illegal and excessive. The court also ruled that the search warrant was issued unconstitutionally. Ten military police officers in face masks and carrying machineguns burst into the Czech Television offices in Prague on March 11 of last year. The team was looking for information connected to the case of the former head of military secret police Miroslav Krejčík. The Constitutional Court said the search was not necessary in order to obtain the information, and that the inspection officers did not fully act according to the protocol.
The lower house of the Czech parliament approved an amendment on energy saving measures in buildings, overruling President Václav Klaus’ veto from August. According to the new law, which should come into effect as of next year, all buildings will have to be marked with the level of their energy efficiency. The law also encourages building owners to take energy-saving measures and introduces the concept of zero-energy buildings. The amendment was introduced in order to meet the requirements of an EU directive.
Czech Agriculture Minister Petr Bendl will brief ministers from EU member states on the outbreak of bootleg related deaths in the Czech Republic next week. Sources from the ministry said that the Czech Republic would ask for the issue to be officially tabled on the agenda of a meeting of agriculture ministers due to begin on Monday. The aim is for the country to provide all the relevant information and explain what measures are being taken. Mr. Bendl is also expected to discuss the matter with the European Commissioner for Health John Dalli.
An autopsy on an elderly woman in the Zlín region revealed the cause of death to have been methanol poisoning, which makes this the twenty-third victim since September 6. The woman was found dead in her apartment on Monday by her son. Another man was also found dead in his apartment on Wednesday morning in Zlín. The police are looking into the cause of death.