News Police seek to bring Opencard cases to court

24-04-2014 13:25 | Chris Johnstone

Police have called for charges to be pressed against members of Prague city council’s executive body over the so-called Opencard scandal. The scandal concerns dubious public tenders and work carried out to develop a multipurpose data card for the city. Current Prague mayor Tomáš Hudeček and former mayor Bohuslav Svoboda as well as council members are suspected of breaking fair competition rules and abuse of public office. All those implicated say they are innocent. Prague’s public prosecutors’ office must now decide if the case goes to court, the office’s spokeswoman said.

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Political parties with fewer female candidates could lose out

25-07-2014 15:33 | Jan Velinger

Political parties fielding fewer female candidates in communal and regional elections this autumn could receive less money from the state per mandate gained, according to a draft amendment to the election law, the daily Právo reports. According to the newspaper, 30 percent of women candidates could be the minimal requirement to avoid the consequences of the provision initiated by Human Rights Minister Jiří Dienstbier of the Social Democrats. Právo writes that government coalition partners, ANO as well as the centre-right opposition parties and the Communists, are not in favour of the legislation which the Interior Ministry has now sent to ministries and other institutions for feedback. A Czech NGO backing equal representation for women in politics, by contrast, has strongly welcomed the initiative, saying the number of women in politics in the Czech Republic has long been low. 

ČEZ says monopoly office charge unfounded

25-07-2014 15:16 | Jan Velinger

The power utility ČEZ has been asked to issue a stance on an accusation by Bulgaria’s antimonopoly office charging the company abused its dominant position on the local market, the company’s spokeswoman Barbora Pulpanová told the Czech News Agency. She stressed that there was no new accusation but that it was related to an inquiry from last March. The spokewoman repeated that ČEZ rejected it as unfounded. Besides ČEZ, Bulgaria's anti-monopoly office on Friday also accused Czech energy company Energo-Pro and Austrian firm EVN of abuse of their dominant position on the market. The companies have been accused of making it difficult for corporate clients to switch electricity supplier or buy electricity on the free market. 

Komárek to step down as head of anti-corruption unit

25-07-2014 14:10 | Jan Velinger

Milan Komárek will step down as the head of the country’s anti-corruption and financial crime unit on July 31st, his superior, Police President Tomáš Tuhý, told reporters Friday. Komárek took over as head of the unit last June and oversaw the founding of team Kobra, targeting tax crimes. Before, he had worked as a regional deputy chief of police in Central Bohemia. Police President Tuhý said he respected Komárek’s contribution and made clear the unit head was stepping down for personal reasons. The job will be filled in the interim by deputy head Jaroslav Vild. A successor should be found by the autumn. 

Fuel tax bill voted down in lower house

25-07-2014 13:57 | Jan Velinger

The Chamber of Deputies on Friday voted anew on a bill aimed at lowering the excise duty on fuel. This time MPs voted down the proposal, which first passed in the lower house on Wednesday - to the surprise of the ruling coalition. One its members had inserted changes into the bill that lowered the tax on petrol and diesel across the board rather than just for farmers, which would have negatively impacted the state budget. After another coalition MP on Wednesday, however, challenged the result, arguing his vote had been incorrectly recorded by the electronic systém, a new vote was scheduled. The centre-right opposition, which had threatened to petition the Constitutional Court if a new vote was held, walked out of the chamber. 

Fortieth Uherské Hradiště film school starts

25-07-2014 08:47 | Chris Johnstone

The 40th Uherské Hradiště summer film school starts Friday with thousands of film fans expected and more than 200 short and full length films being screened. Some of the stars making appearance will be US independent film director and script writer Todd Solondz, who has won prizes at the Sundance Film Festival and Cannes Film Festival. The main guest is British director Peter Greenaway. Spanish films are one of the main themes of the summer school this year. 

Czech clubs progress in Europa League qualifiers

25-07-2014 08:29 | Chris Johnstone

Czech football clubs Mladá Boleslav and Slovan Liberec have cruised through to the next qualifying round of the Europa League. Mladá Boleslav beat Bosnia Heregovina club Široki Brijeg 4:0 away and Slovan Liberec put three goals past Slovak club Košice without reply at home. Both team won the first leg matches. Slovan will face Lyon in the next round with Mladá Boleslav’s opponents Romanian club Giurgiu. 

Kuřim affair aunt conditionally released from prison

24-07-2014 17:06 | Chris Johnstone

One woman in a highly publicized Czech child abuse case known as the Kuřim affair, after the town near Brno, has been conditionally released from prison. Kateřina Mauerová was sentenced to 10 years in prison as one of the ringleaders of a six-strong group who tyrannized her two young nephews. They were kept in a cage, burnt with cigarettes, and beaten in what was described as an attempt to induce total obedience. The case only came to light by chance in 2007 when a neighbour installed a baby monitoring device which picked up images of the close circuit tv used to monitor the abused children. A national furore followed in which the accused were rumoured to be linked to various sects. 

Czech parties seek to get in on Věra Jourová European Commission team

24-07-2014 13:55 | Chris Johnstone

Czech parties are now seeking to get their nominees in the team likely to accompany European Commission candidate Věra Jourová to Brussels. The Christian Democrats have confirmed that they are pushing for unsuccessful European Parliament candidate Eduard Hulicius to be part of Jourová’s team. The Social Democrats are also pressing for a representative to be part of the Cabinet as well. ANO’s first deputy chairwoman and current Minister for Regional Development should be confirmed by the government as the Czech nominee for the future commission late on Thursday. 

Olomouc university centre stage for centipede congress

24-07-2014 13:30 | Chris Johnstone

Olomouc’s Palacký University Faculty of Science is hosting an international conference about centipedes, millipedes and related insects. The conference is giving particular attention this year to the largely untapped medicinal uses that they could be used for. Some of the insects secrete substances which have already been found to give partial protection against malaria or to reduce pain. The first such conference was held in Paris in 1968 and the last was held in Brisbane, Australia in 2011. 

Inspectors found more than half Prague restaurants inflate bills for foreigners

24-07-2014 12:53 | Chris Johnstone

Czech inspectors have found that more than half the restaurants they checked up on discriminated against foreign clients. The inspectors from the Czech Commercial Inspectorate found that eight out of 13 restaurants they checked up on added extra charges to the bills of foreign customers compared with Czechs. Agents went undercover for the inspections by pretending they could only speak English. Other shortcomings were found at nine out of the 13 restaurants. The inspectorate pointed out that Prague is highly reliant on tourists with the aim that they should be treated fairly and not exploited. The inspectorate said it would continue checks throughout the tourist season and beyond because restaurants also served ex-pats living in Prague. 



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