Police have asked the lower house of parliament to pursue an investigation focused on the leader of the ANO party, Andrej Babiš, and the deputy chairman of the party Jaroslav Faltýnek, by waiving their parliamentary immunity Czech Radio announced on Thursday citing several independent sources. The broadcaster said the information was confirmed by the speaker of the lower house Jan Hamáček. Hamáček is a member of the Social Democratic Party (ČSSD). Czech Radio said the request is connected with the so-called Stork’s Nest affair, where a company belonging to Babiš‘ large agro-chemical group Agrofert applied for a 50 million crown European grant for work on a recreation and hotel complex. The funding was supposed to be directed towards small and medium sized companies. The European fraud office has been investigating the case. The request will have to be discussed by a special lower house committee.
Czech importers of eggs from the Netherlands and Belgium have been told they must carry out laboratory checks for the insecticide Fipronil. The demand comes from the State Veterinary Administration. After eggs have been cleared they can be sold on the market. Eggs contaminated with the insecticide, which is harmful to humans and should not be used on chickens, have been found in neighbouring Slovakia. Millions of eggs have been withdrawn from the Netherlands, where the contamination took place, and Belgium, where it was first noticed. The insecticide is used against fleas, mites, and ticks.
The Czech Republic’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto has announced the collapse of its plans to build a low cost car together with Indian company Tata Motors. Talks had been going on since March on the possible joint venture. Škoda Auto said that sufficient technical and economic synergies between the companies could not be found. It did not rule out future cooperation though with Tata, which is the largest Indian auto producer. Škoda was representing the wider Volkswagen group in the talks.
An 18 month conditional sentence has been delivered on a legal expert found guilty of manipulating the facts in a high profile case of an infamous lobbyist involved in a traffic accident. Jiří Dolečkov, the 84-year-old court recognised traffic expert was also fined 7,800 crowns. Dolečkov’s controversial evidence was in favour of famous political and business mover and shaker Roman Janoušek after he was accused of running down a pedestrian in Prague. Dolečkov argued that charges should not have been brought. Janoušek was eventually sentenced to four and a half years in prison. The case put the spotlight on the selection and testimony of court recognised experts. An appeal is possible.
The Ministry of Health has taken steps to ban the export of four types of pharmaceutical drugs outside the country in order to make sure that they are available for Czech patients. The exceptional move will prevent the re-export of the drugs and resale for prices often much higher than on the local market where, by European standards, drugs are relatively cheap. The export ban includes drugs needed to treat epilepsy and diabetes.
The post of fire service attaché has been created at the Czech embassy in the Slovak capital Bratislava, the daily Lidové Noviny reported on Thursday. The creation of the post was confirmed by the fire service spokeswoman who added that Slovakia was considering a similar post in Prague. The attaché would be responsible for planning joint operations, training and education and improve communications, she added. The paper commented that the Bratislava embassy appears to be used for various dubious posts which appear to look like ‘jobs for the boys.’
President Miloš Zeman is to meet with regional governors on Thursday night. The main topic of discussion is expected to be increases in pay for staff in regions providing social services and for sisters in hospitals. Other subjects are also likely to be brought up during open discussion, the president’s spokesman said. The meeting also includes minister for regional development Karla Šlechtová.
Heavy storms in Moravia overnight on Wednesday downed trees and disrupted transport. One of the worst hit areas is around Olomouc with train services connecting the city and capital, Prague, cancelled due to trees on the track. Replacement bus services have been impossible because roads are also blocked. Czech Railways hopes to restore services during Thursday.
Pentathlon gold medallist in the Olympic Games in London in 2012, David Svoboda has told broadcaster Czech Television he is considering retirement from competition. Svoboda failed to get into the finals of the European Championships in Minsk earlier this year and previous suffered a series of injuries. Before that, the 32-year-old had held out the hope that he might still compete in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Svoboda says he wants to stay in sport, perhaps as a trainer or in some other function.