Some prisoners freed from Czech jails this month under a presidential
amnesty did not actually qualify for early release, Mladá fronta Dnes
reported on Tuesday. The newspaper said some judges made mistakes due to
the fact they were dealing with so many cases in a short time period, while
others have said the wording of the amnesty is unclear. The minister of
justice, Pavel Blažek, said it was not possible to return prisoners who
had been mistakenly released.
Over 6,000 prisoners serving terms of less than a year were freed early under the amnesty, which President Václav Klaus said he had declared to mark the 20th anniversary of the foundation of the Czech Republic on January 1.
The chief of protocol at Prague Castle, Jindřich Forejt, is set to become the Czech ambassador to the Vatican. The information was confirmed by the minister of foreign affairs, Karel Schwarzenberg. According to press reports, he had held off from nominating Mr. Forejt, who was backed by President Václav Klaus; in return, the president had dragged his feet about putting his signature to the appointment of several other ambassadors.
The president of the Czech Federation of the Food and Drink Industries, Miroslav Toman, has called on the Czech authorities to ban imports of foodstuffs from Poland unless it introduces more thorough controls. However, the Czech Ministry of Agriculture said such a move was not the order of the day. Some supermarkets removed Polish-produced biscuits from their shelves when it was found they could contain rat poison, although in sufficient quantities to harm human health. Last year, some table salt imported from Poland was also found to be contaminated.
Midfielder Tomáš Rosický will return to the Czech squad for an away friendly against Turkey next Wednesday. The Arsenal player, who is 32, last played for the national soccer team against Greece at Euro 2012, where he sustained an Achilles’ tendon injury. He has also suffered from a calf problem this season. Tomáš Huebschmann, Václav Pilář and Tomáš Necid are all unavailable for the game, while Stanislav Tecl of Viktoria Plzeň receives his first call-up. The Czechs are third in their World Cup qualifying group and face Denmark and Armenia in March.
At a press conference the German Foreign Ministry’s spokesman said on Monday that the government is expecting good relations with the Czech Republic to continue under Miloš Zeman as they had in the previous ten years. It has chosen not to react to the debate over the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia that evolved during the last two weeks of the campaign. In the meantime, the leading German daily Die Welt published an article saying that the government should not invite Miloš Zeman to Berlin, because of the anti-German rhetoric that was used in his campaign. Some other German and Austrian media have expressed similar views.
Meanwhile, the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, has sent a congratulatory telegram to the Czech president-elect, in which he expressed his hope to further develop a political dialogue with Mr Zeman. Mr Putin wrote that in Russia, Miloš Zeman is seen as a leader who will solidify Russian-Czech friendship.
The Constitutional Court has turned down another complaint filed by the former Central Bohemian governor David Rath against the seizure of his property by the state during his criminal investigation. The court ruled at a closed hearing that there was no breach of basic legal rights during the seizure of his property and finances. Mr Rath, who faces corruption charges, has spent the last six months in custody and is awaiting trial with ten other defendants.
Clean-up work has begun in the town of Pardubice near the mineral oil refinery Paramo on Monday. According to pyrotechnical experts there may be up to 180 unexploded bombs from Allied air attacks during World War II in the soil. In case the bombs are discovered local authorities are prepared to evacuate the area within two hours. As many as 10,000 people may have to be evacuated from their homes, and trains going through the town may have to be stopped and potentially re-routed.
Famous graphic artist, Oldřich Kulhánek, died at the age of 72 on Monday morning. He is the author of the images that appear on Czech bank notes as well as many Czech stamps. A Prague native, Mr Kulhánek was detained by the Czechoslovak secret police in 1971 on charges that he slandered communist leaders with his drawings from the late 1960s. Although he was set free after a few weeks, he remained under surveillance for a number of years and was prohibited from publishing his work until the fall of the Communist regime in 1989.
The Czech Constitutional Court is now a judge short with the 10-year term of Justice Jiří Mucha having come to an end on Monday. This leaves the court with 12 judges, the minimum number required for it to sit. A further six judges are set to leave the country’s highest court between now and the end of the year, and experts have warned that its case load could pile up which could lead to delays in rulings. President-elect Miloš Zeman has said he hopes to be able to find candidates that would be acceptable to the Senate within a couple of months of taking office in March.