News Police arrest Czech-Iranian businessman with colourful past
Czech police have arrested an influential Iranian born businessman on suspicion of massive tax evasion, the news server of paper Lidové Noviny reported on Friday. Shahram Abdullah Zadeh was arrested in the presidential suite of the Hilton Hotel, Prague, where he had a long term rental agreement. They found documents relating to massive business details and substantial amounts of ready cash, the web server said. According, to some Gulf newspaper reports Zadeh fled Dubai when his links in major oil deals with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps were uncovered. Zadeh, who reportedly has Iranian and Czech citizenship after marrying a Czech woman, had been contesting the appropriation of a Dubai-based real estate company, in which his partner was a relative of Dubai’s emir, before his flight.
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Outgoing minister of education Marcel Chládek described in a press conference that his dismissal was an unprecedented step. He said that he was a victim of a campaign by the fellow coalition party, ANO, led by billionaire businessman Andrej Babiš, which was connected with his moves to win a bigger budget for the education ministry. Chládek warned that his example could be a dangerous precedent for fellow ministers or officials whose policies clashed with the interests of Andrej Babiš or his agro-chemical group Agrofert. He added that the comments about his alleged bullying of ministry officials were lies put together by a Babiš owned newspaper and drawn from comments of workers who had already quit a year ago. He said it was important for his successor to continue the fight for more funds for education, adding that without these the Czech Republic could not hope to compete on a global stage.
The Czech Republic’s biggest car maker Škoda Auto has been fined just over 49 million crowns by the country’s competition office for an illegal cartel. The company set a minimum price for the margins of car distributors, meaning that they could not go lower than them and give a better deal to car buyers. The case was only made public by the daily Mláda Fronta Dnes after it pressed the competition office for details under public access of information legislation.
A court has cleared the former head of office of ex-prime minister Petr Nečas of abusing her public position by ordering the army’s intelligence service to spy and keep track of Radka Nečasová, the prime minister’s then wife. Jana Nečasová, formerly Nagyová, was romantically linked to the prime minister and later became his wife. Charges against three co-defendants from the military espionage service were dismissed. The case brought down the centre-right government of Petr Nečas when it exploded in June 2013. The state prosecutor, who demanded a three-and-a-half jail sentence for Nečasová and similar penalties for the other defendants, said an appeal would be lodged against the verdict. Nečasová afterwards said the charges had been totally fabricated with the aim of discrediting her and Petr Nečas.
Czech schools should not insist on any general limitation of the use of religious symbols by their students in their school rules, the Education Ministry said in a manual for school principals released yesterday. They can only do so for the sake of security and health protection in a specific situation, the manual says. Headscarves have become an issue in the Czech Republic after a medical school in Prague banned two students from wearing them more than a year ago. Ombudsman Anna Šabatová then demanded that the school rules be changed, arguing that the school indirectly discriminated against the girls.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has announced his intention to dismiss the Minister of Education, Marcel Chládek. Mr Sobotka made the announcement on Thursday in a press release, citing the daily Mladá Fronta, which claimed that the minister was bullying his subordinates at the ministry. According to the daily, nine women at the ministry who had been in daily contact with Mr Chládek have given notice in the past 16 months. He will be the first minister for the Social Democrats to lose his post in the current coalition government.
The ANO Party lead by businessman Andrej Babiš would come first in the general election with 33 percent of the vote, according to a poll by the CVVM agency released on Thursday. The Social Democrats of Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka would finish second with 29.5 percent, the survey indicates. The Communist Party would come third with 13 percent of the vote, followed by TOP 09 with seven percent, Civic Democrats with 6.5 percent and Christian Democrats with five percent. The Greens, Pirates and the Dawn Party did not pass the five-percent threshold to enter the lower house.
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.
According to the head of the Prague Waterworks company, Petr Mrkoš, said the tap water was contaminated by the sewage water from a nearby construction site, where a sewage pipe has been damaged by construction workers. The 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.