News Lower house approves parliamentary commission on Opencard case
The lower house of Parliament has approved the setting up of a special parliamentary commission which would supervise the investigation of alleged dubious tenders for Prague’s controversial multi-purpose Opencard project. Stanislav Huml,the Social Democrat deputy who tabled the proposal, said the commission would not in any way interfere with the work of the police and judiciary but would monitor their progress on the grounds of the evidence collected. The closely watched Opencard case involves charges of abuse of office and manipulation of public tenders against a dozen councilors, as well as the former and current mayors of Prague, Bohuslav Svoboda and Tomáš Hudeček. Verdicts against a number of suspects have already been passed, though they are not legally binding. The 9-member parliamentary commission should be set up next week.
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President Miloš Zeman is due to meet the minister of education, Marcel Chládek and rectors of two universities on Thursday over the three academics he refuses to name professors. Mr Zeman said on Thursday that he will hand over the heads of Charles University and the University of Economics classified materials which prove that the candidates cooperated with the communist secret police. The president said he is convinced that the rectors will understand his decision not to appoint the three candidates, Ivan Ošťádal, Jiří Fajt and Jan Eichler, professors.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová has reached the third round at French Open for the third time in her career. Kvitová, who is seeded fourth, overcame Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain 6-7 6-4 6-2 on Thursday at Roland Garros. Another Czech, Karolína Plíšková, has failed to advance to the third round, losing to Romania’s Andreea Mitu 6-2 6-7 4-6.
Tap water in Prague 6, which was contaminated by coliform bacteria, is drinkable again. Prague chief hygiene officer Zdeňka Jágrová made the announcement at a meeting at Prague City Council on Thursday. At least 460 people were treated for diarrhoea, vomiting and fevers between Friday and Thursday after drinking the contaminated water. The Prague Waterworks company on Monday said they will pay each resident who suffered health problems 5,000 crowns in compensation, on the basis of a doctor’s certificate, and those who were hospitalized an even higher sum.
Czech exports to Russia dropped by 35.8 percent in the first quarter of 2015, the Ministry of Industry and Trade announced on Thursday. In that period Czech companies exported goods to Russia worth nearly 18 billion crowns. The decline was mainly due to EU sanctions against Russia but also due several large contracts being completed by the end of 2014. According to the expectations of the Ministry of Industry and Trade, the overall result for 2015 should not be so dramatic, although it is likely to exceed last year’s figure. In 2014, Czech exports to Russia dropped by 2.7 percent.
A man died on Thursday morning after jumping out of a window of an apartment house in Pilsen. Some twenty people subsequently had to be evacuated from the house after the police found an anti-tank missile in the man’s apartment. According to a Pilsen police spokeswoman, the 42-year-old man, who allegedly suffered from mental problems, committed suicide.
Around a third of Czech families with children have serious problems making ends meet, according to data released by the Czech Statistical office on Thursday. Some 45 percent of families with three or more children and 55 percent of one-parent families have insufficient income and are threatened by poverty, the study suggests. At the same time, the real earnings of Czech households have gone up. In 2013, the average income per person reached 153,300 crowns, increasing for the first time since 2009.
The Czech Republic, along with Lithuania, Poland, Greece and Luxembourg, ranks among the EU countries with the highest number of road fatalities, according to the data released by the International Transport Forum organisation. The risk of dying on the road in the Czech Republic is twice as high as in the neighbouring Germany. While the number of road deaths has been decreasing in the long term, the Czech Republic in 2014 ranked among other 13 EU countries, where the number of fatalities increased year-by-year. According to experts, most of the accidents were caused by speeding and inattentive driving.
Radek Jiránek, head of the crime prevention department at the Czech Interior Ministry, has been named the new head of the Czech government Agency for Social Inclusion, which is aimed at helping integrate Roma and other deprived groups, into mainstream society. He is to take up the post on June 5. Mr Jiránek, will replace the agency’s long-time head Martin Šimáček, who was recently sacked by the Minister for Human Right, Jiří Dientsbier, who cited poor communication and the fact that Mr. Šimáček had refused to discuss a planned reorganization.
The Czech Ministry of Defence is planning to acquire mobile 3D radars from Israeli company Elta Systems, E15 reported on Thursday. The ministry plans to sign a contract for the devices without holding a tender process, going back on an earlier plan, the business daily said. The deal would go through at government level, as in the case of the leasing of Gripen fighter jets from Sweden. Almost CZK 6 billion has been earmarked for the 3D radars in a recently approved plan, four times more than previously announced.
Slovan Liberec have won the Czech soccer cup for the second time in the club’s history. They were trailing regional rivals Jablonec 1:0 until four minutes from the end of normal time but managed to keep the game alive with a late equaliser before eventually winning a penalty shootout. Wednesday night’s victory gives the North Bohemian side a place in the third qualifying round of next season's Europa League.