News Office of Government faces large fine over EU presidency contract
The tax authorities have fined the Office of the Government more than half a billion crowns for paying an excessively high sum to a company for audiovisual services during the Czech presidency of the EU in 2009, Právo reported on Wednesday. The Office of the Government is considering appealing, the newspaper said. An official told Czech Television the fine could prove fatal to the institution, as it was many times its annual budget. Investigators said the company ProMoPro had received over CZK 380 million more than it should have for the provision of audiovisual services. No tender was held for the contract. Twelve people have been charged in connection with the matter.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
Two people died in a car crash near Vamberk in the area of Rychnov; two others were injured. The police confirmed the accident had taken place ahead of a roundabout. It was a tragic weekend for motorists on Czech roads: eight people lost their lives in traffic accidents.
Long-time in-house director Daniel Špinar will succeed Michal Dočekal as the artistic director of drama at Prague’s National Theatre. The latter’s mandate ends in June 2015; he was artistic director for 12 years. Mr Špinar (35) was chosen for the post by National Theatre head Jan Burian, after taking part in a tender for the post and receiving backing from an expert committee, which screened numerous candidates.
A new survey conducted by the Ipsos agency for Profi Credit suggests that 40 percent of Czechs (and 46 percent of Slovaks) give to charity at Christmastime. According to the poll, which involved 4,000 respondents, more than two-thirds of Czechs donated to children in need, either at orphanages or in hospital or suffering from disabilities. Seniors were the second-largest group to receive donations, the poll found, and animal charities, third.
Two people, a 27-year-old woman and a 37-year-old man, died of apparent smoke inhalation in their apartment in Prague on Sunday when a candle left burning caused a Christmas wreath to catch fire. The fire, in the hallway, burned itself out even before firefighters arrived. Medics tried to revive the two but were unable to save them. Their two dogs also died in the tragedy. Autopsies have been ordered.
A nine-day moratorium on the removal of munitions from the damaged facility in Vrbětice runs out at midnight on Sunday. If no uncontrolled explosions are heard, the job to begin clearing live munitions from the unstable site can begin. The storage facility, being guarded by the Czech Army, became an unexpected threat after an initial blast in October cratered part of the site and killed two employees. The government has scrambled to find a solution, calling in the military to ensure safety and security as the size of the problem became apparent.
One person was killed, another injured, in a shooting incident in Vysoké Mýto, east of Pardubice, shortly after 12 AM on Saturday. The deceased and the injured man were reportedly part of security at a local discotheque. The police detained two others at the scene and confiscated a firearm for forensics testing. According to one source, the shooter was a member of the local municipal police. The news was confirmed by the town's mayor, who said the officer had not been on duty and that the gun was not a service firearm but privately owned.
Members of an extended team searching for pieces of a bright meteorite, which recently blazed across the night sky and crashed in the area of Zd´ár nad Sázavou in the Czech Republic, have seen success. According to the Czech News Agency, on Saturday they recovered a piece - just a centimetre in size - in a field. The find will still have to be tested in the laboratory. If confirmed, the sample will be 23rd meteor in the world whose celestial orbit and area of origin are known. According to the astronomer Pavel Spurný of the Czech Academy of Sciences the main piece, if found, will be about the size of a fist. Originally, prior to entering the earth's atmosphere, the meteor weighed 200 kilos. Its flight was spotted by hundreds in the region of Vysočina on December 9.
Czech Railways has acquired 50 older train cars from Austria's Österreichische Bundesbahnen (ÖBB) at the cost of 14.4 million euros, news sit iDnes reports. The train carriages will be used mainly on routes including Prague to Žilina and Budapest and Bohumín and Břeclav. The transport firm reportedly beat out private competitor RegioJet which also had an interest.
Ski jumper Roman Koudelka finished second in the FIS World Cup event in Engelberg, Switzerland, on Saturday, the third time he has finished on the podium this season. On his second jump he landed 136.5 metres but was deducted points (due to headwind). He was narrowly beaten by Germany's Richard Freitag.
Pavel Bělobrádek, the head of the Christian Democratic Party (one of three parties in the current government) has confirmed he will seek another term as chairman at an upcoming party congress. Mr Bělobrádek suggested several months ago he might consider giving up politics for family reasons. He has strongly denied health reasons could play a role (the party head and deputy prime minister suffers from multiple sclerosis). He allowed it was probably his last run for the post for some time. So far, Bělobrádek - who successfully led his party back to national politics in 2013 - faces no challengers.