Friday News Briefing
Zeman promises no more pardons as he is sworn in
Posted: March 8, 2013
New Czech President Miloš Zeman has said there will be no more presidential pardons
Miloš Zeman, sworn in as Czech president Mar. 8, said he would not grant amnesties or pardons, describing them as "useless monarchist elements" in the Czech constitution. He said he had voluntarily given up the rights "for himself" so that none of his successors could abuse the right. "This is one of my commitments," Zeman said. On New Year's Day, Zeman's predecessor Vaclav Klaus declared a far-reaching amnesty which has caused public outrage. It pardons some prisoners as well as people given suspended sentences and halts criminal prosecution that continued for at least eight years and the punishment does not carry more than ten years. This covers some high-profile corruption and fraud cases. The Senate has filed a high treason charge against Klaus over the amnesty.
In his presidential inauguration speech in the Vladislav Hall of Prague Castle, Miloš Zeman said he wanted to fight "Godfathers' mafias," neo-Nazis and a substantial of part of the media that focuses on "brainwashing." He also said he wanted to offer the presidential office as a neutral field for parties and for dialogue between organizations. He said his first goal will be to calm down and stabilize the Czech political scene. Zeman said Godfather-like mafias, neo-Nazi commandos and a part of the media are islands of negative deviation. The Vladislav Hall, filled mainly with politicians, resounded with applause when Zeman spoke about the media while the audience did not react to his words about Godfathers and neo-Nazis.
Former Central Bohemian governor David Rath (Social Democrats, ČSSD) who has been in custody since May 2012 and is likely to be charged with bribery soon, may be released on a two-million Kč bail, a court ruled Mar. 8, but the state attorney appealed the verdict. An appeals court will therefore make the decision. The news was first released by the E15.cz server. Rath's lawyer Adam Cerny said Rath's family would post the bail in the next days. Rath has been in custody because the courts feared that he might flee and continue committing crime. The court concluded today that the second reason for custody is not valid anymore and that bail may be posted to prevent Rath's escape, E15 writes.
Czech unemployment probably reached its peak in February, when it hit 8.1 percent, and it is likely to begin to drop slightly as of March thanks to the start of seasonal work, according to analysts. They warned however that it would not fall markedly before the end of 2013. The situation on the Czech labour market will not improve significantly before the end of this year owing to the recession of the Czech economy, analysts said. Unemployment in the Czech Republic grew to 8.1 percent in February from 8 percent in January, the Labour and Social Affairs Ministry said today. Employment offices registered 593,683 jobless persons, 7,874 more month-on-month.
The Czech Republic's revenues from foreign tourism reached 137.8 billion Kč last year, 1.5 percent higher year on year. "The development of the revenues was positively influenced by a 6.8 percent higher number of arrivals of foreign tourist. It is evident that the growth in the number of foreign tourists' arrivals does not correspond with the growth pace in revenues from foreign tourism," said tourism analyst Jaromír Beránek. The difference between the revenues and expenditures in the balance of payments of foreign tourism reached around 53.7 billion Kč last year, 2.7 percent lower year on year. Beránek expects revenues from foreign tourism to be flat this year, also due to a lower number of cleared foreign passengers at Vaclav Havel Airport Prague.
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