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Czech report Czech report
by Euro Reporter
2011-07-17 08:39:17
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Brussels probes Czech power utility

European competition officials have opened a formal probe into CEZ over suspicions that the Czech Republic’s largest power utility illegally hampered rivals from entering the domestic wholesale electricity market. The Commission said they had concerns that CEZ may have hoarded capacity on the transmission network, abusing its dominant position and hindering rivals’ entry into the local market.

The Commission stressed that the opening of formal proceedings does not imply that it has proof of illegal activities, but merely means it will investigate the case as a matter of priority, with no legal deadline to complete those inquiries. CEZ, which owns three-quarters of the country’s generating capacity, maintains its innocence, saying the investigation would prove that it has not committed any breach of competition laws.

The utility highlighted the fact that the Commission did not open formal investigations of other serious accusations, namely manipulating prices on the Czech electricity market, engaging in cartel activities and limiting the trade in brown coal. “This contrasts with accusations of the same malpractice recently raised against Czech Coal by numerous customers of the company,” a statement from CEZ said, referring to its main domestic competitor that it believes has orchestrated the escalation of a bilateral dispute between the two to the EU level. Czech Coal denies any wrongdoing. The corporate dispute became front-page news in November 2009 when Commission officials raided CEZ’s offices in Prague only to be met by local press who had been tipped off.

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Romani arson victims in Czech Republic may return to their targeted home


The family of Milan Demeter and Eva Douchová is likely to return home to Býchory soon, where they own an apartment in a building that was once municipal property. "We'll return for a few days, try living there and see how it goes," Douchová told news server Romea.cz. Her apartment was attacked in the early morning hours of Monday by four assailants who threw a flaming torch through her living room window while shouting racist slogans. "The police say we mustn't be afraid, even though the defendants have been released from custody," said Milan Demeter. Police intend to increase the number of patrols in front of the building where the family resides for up to 60 days. "Like the police officers, I am now inclined to believe those guys won't do it again. They were quickly apprehended and await trial now. They've done enough to bring shame on themselves in the village. We spoke with several of our neighbours, and they are standing by us. We also want to put a surveillance camera on the building," Milan Demeter said.

Eva Douchová is curious whether the parents of the defendants will ever come apologize to them. "If my children were to do such a thing, I would definitely apologize," she said. Some media reports have broadcast remarks from residents of Býchory minimizing the attack. These residents believe the assailants only committed the crime because they were drunk and that they are otherwise decent people. Demeter responded indignantly to such suggestions: "That's nonsense. Even drunk I would never throw a flaming torch or a Molotov cocktail through somebody's window. I might fight with someone one on one, but I would definitely never do something like that."

News server Romea.cz has determined it was pure chance that the attack did not have more serious repercussions. Had the assailants thrown the torch through the next window, the children sleeping in that room could have burned to death. The friend who was visiting the family was only able to put the torch out in time because he was still up watching television. The friend claims the perpetrators aimed directly at the building where Demeter and Douchová live even though Romani people live next door as well. "[Our neighbours] had their blinds drawn," Demeter said. Non-governmental organizations in the Czech Republic say they have around 10 cases on file of Molotov cocktail attacks on Romani homes and similar cases of violence which police have either never investigated or have postponed investigating.

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Legislation to include euthanasia safeguard


A safeguard against euthanasia will be for the first time embedded in Czech legislation, in a reform bill on health services that the Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament, approved in the first reading yesterday, deputy health minister Martin Plisek said. Though euthanasia is banned by the international convention on human rights and biomedicine that is binding on the Czech Republic as well, it has not yet been mentioned in the national legislation directly. The bill modifies the patients' rights, including their previously expressed wishes.

The patient can decide beforehand how doctors should proceed in the treatment if he/she is not able to make decisions any longer, for instance, if he/she is unconscious. The patient's wish is valid for five years. Then it must be extended. "The safeguard against euthanasia is a novelty," Plisek said. It clearly specifies that the patient's previous wish cannot be fulfilled if it led to an active termination of life, he added. Under the prepared bill, the patient's will must be written on a special document certified by a notary public or written down in the patient's health files.

The note must be signed by the doctor in charge, the patient and a witness. The new bill also confirms the possibility of a secret (anonymous) child delivery. Unlike euthanasia, it included in the valid law on public health. Health care facilities can provide secret child deliveries for women with a permanent residence in the Czech Republic only. The facilities would find out the woman's identity to be able to report the care to her health insurance company but the woman's personal data must be protected. Foreign women do not have the right to a secret child delivery covered by health insurance in the Czech Republic.


      
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