News Coalition parties patch up rift over company board positions

03-07-2014 08:07 | Chris Johnstone

Coalition parties appear to have patched up but not fully resolved their clash over the share out of seats on supervisory boards of state companies. Last week’s move by ANO leader and finance minister, Andrej Babiš, to replace a swathe of board members at state controlled power company ČEZ with his nominees created anger, particularly from the smallest party the Christian Democrats, which found it had no representative on the board. Wednesday’s meeting of party leaders resulted in agreement that the Christian Democrats would put forward its candidate to be reviewed by the finance ministry. Social Democrat leader and prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka admitted afterwards that full agreement had not been reached. ANO bosses continued to argue that the ministry responsible for the state company should have the right to decide how to fill the board, a policy which is in conflict with the share out policy of recent years.

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Prague’s Václav Havel Airport to undergo reconstruction

28-07-2014 13:56 | Daniela Lazarová

Prague’s Václav Havel International Airport is to undergo a 150 million crown reconstruction which will enable the airport to deal with an increased number of outgoing and incoming flights smoothly. The make-over is being made in preparation for the start of regular flights from Soul which will see the huge A380 airbuses land regularly at Prague airport, disgorging and taking on board a large number of passengers. The outsize plane made three landings in Prague last year and airport officials say it taxed the airport’s infrastructure to the limit. Under the present conditions such flights could delay others. 

Diag Human says court battle with Czech Republic not over

28-07-2014 13:30 | Daniela Lazarová

The blood plasma company Diag Human which is suing the Czech state for allegedly failing to protect its investment in the Czech Republic says the protracted court battle is not over. The company said on Monday it would appeal the verdict of a Czech arbitration court and take the case to a foreign court of law. The verdict of the arbitration court, delivered to both parties last week, is being interpreted differently. The Czech Health Ministry says it is a definitive verdict in the Czech Republic’s favour, meaning that following an appeal it will not have to pay the company eight billion crowns in compensation, while Diag Human claims that last week’s ruling upholds an earlier verdict according to which the Czech state will have to compensate the firm for a marred deal in the 1990s. 

Dispute over amnesty authorship may be settled out of court

28-07-2014 12:46 | Daniela Lazarová

A drawn-out dispute between lawyer Pavel Hasenkopf and the Office of the President over the authorship of ex-president Václav Klaus’ controversial 2013 amnesty may be settled out-of-court, the ctk news agency reports. Pavel Hasenkopf, who filed a law suit against the president’s office for claiming that he was one of the authors of the amnesty, has accepted an offer to try to reach an out-of-court settlement. He had asked for 7,000,000 crowns in compensation, saying that the claim had damaged his reputation. The amnesty which Vaclav Klaus declared at the end of his second term in office saw the release of over 111,000 prisoners and halted the prosecution of a number of high-profile cases of large-scale corruption and financial fraud. 

Major personnel changes await Czech military

28-07-2014 12:25 | Daniela Lazarová

There will be major personnel changes in the Czech military as of August, general staff spokeswoman Jana Růžičková told the CTK news agency. Army Chief of Staff Petr Pavel has selected three new deputies, to replace officers who will be serving in NATO structures or retiring. Jaroslav Kocián will be chief inspector of the Czech military, Jiří Baloun will head the Joint Operations Centre and Josef Bečvář will serve as first deputy chief of staff. More changes may be in the pipeline if the Army Chief of Staff Petr Pavel is elected chairman of NATO’s military committee. The Czech government nominated him for the past last week. A decision is expected in September. 

Court upholds 12-year sentence for drug overdose

28-07-2014 12:08 | Daniela Lazarová

The Supreme Court in Olomouc has upheld a 12-year sentence for a man who gave a young woman a lethal amount of crystal methamphetamine. The nineteen-year-old died within hours of taking the drug which she and her friend were given as a reward for cleaning the man’s house. Another man who was involved in the incident got a two year suspended sentence. An autopsy confirmed that the young woman died of a massive overdose of the home-made drug. 

PM dismisses criticism from president regarding the selection of the country’s nominee to the EU Commission

28-07-2014 11:54 | Daniela Lazarová

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has dismissed criticism from the head of state relating to the manner in which the Czech government selected its nominee for the European Commission. President Zeman said in an interview for the weekly Tyden that the prime minister had humiliated the country by letting the commission’s president-elect, Jean-Claude Juncker, hand-pick one of the Czech nominees himself. Prime Minister Sobotka on Monday issued a statement saying that he considered the president’s criticism unjustified and unnecessary and said the head of state was clearly ill-informed. Mr. Sobotka said that his meeting with Mr. Junker had revolved mainly around the portfolio which the Czech Republic would like to manage and noted that all EU member states had held similar talks with the commission’s president-elect. After lengthy negotiations the Czech government named regional development minister Věra Jourová as the country’s nominee for EU commissioner. 

Press: Czech Republic to pay millions to Volkswagen in lost dispute

28-07-2014 06:56 | Jan Richter

The Czech government will pay the German carmaker Volkswagen 301 million crowns after losing a dispute with the firm over settling debts following the privatization of Škoda Auto, the daily Lidové noviny reported on Monday. Volkswagen acquired Škoda in 1991 but claimed then Czech government siphoned off hundreds of millions of crowns. Earlier this year, the Czech government lost an international arbitration in the case as well as a court case heard by an Austrian court. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš had released the funds, and said he would determine who was responsible in the case, the daily said. 

Accident halts traffic on major Czech railway route

27-07-2014 19:26 | Jan Richter

An accident on the railway line between Prague and Kolín in central Bohemia has halted traffic on the route used by international express trains with destinations in Germany, Slovakia, Austria and Hungary. The accident occurred when a train ran onto a wrong track and damaged a switch. Local trains have been cancelled and replaced with buses while international expresses have been diverted to an alternate route. The authorities expect traffic on the route to resume at 8 PM on Sunday. 

South Moravian communities commemorate soldiers killed in WWI

27-07-2014 19:18 | Jan Richter

Several towns and villages in South Moravia on Sunday commemorated their men who were killed on the battlefields of the First World War, the news agency ČTK reported. A plaque dedicated to their memory was unveiled in Hustopeče while in Valtice, a memorial cross was erected. In Olešnice and several other places, gatherings were held to remember the fallen soldiers on the eve of the 100th anniversary of the war’s outbreak. 

Light airplane crashes during take-off in western Bohemia

27-07-2014 16:43 | Jan Richter

A light airplane crashed during take-off at an airfield in Plasy, western Bohemia, on Sunday. The plane was carrying two people but no one suffered any injuries in the accident, a spokesman for the local fire brigade said. The news agency ČTK reported the plane’s engine lost power during take-off and the pilot ended the manoeuvre. The plane then crashed some 50 metres away from the runway. Causes of the accident are under investigation. 

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