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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Chinese cook ordered to pay 15,000 crowns for Tibetan flag snatch

29-06-2016 18:04 | Chris Johnstone

A Prague court has ordered a Chinese cook living in the Czech capital to pay damages of 15,000 crwns or face two months in prison. The verdict was given after he was found guilty of removing a Tibetan flag from a demonstrator during the state visit of the Chinese president to the Czech Republic at the end of March. The court verdict is not binding and can be still appealed. Through a translator, the cook said that the Tibetan flag is banned in Chin and represents division of the country. He added that he acted to honour the visit by Chinese president Xi Jinping. The visit to Prague was marked by clashes between pro and anti-Chinese groups. 

Competition office clears Mall.cz deal

29-06-2016 17:29 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech completion office has cleared the sale of the second biggest Czech e-shop business, Mall.cz to the group Rockaway Capital. The purchase for more than 200 million euros has been made by billionaires Daniel Kretinský, Patrik Tkáč, and the PPF group of the richest Czech Petr Kellner. The grouping had already bought up the price comparison website, Heureka.cz, which has already led some rival e-shop operators to withdraw from it. 

Czech Republic wins clearance for key transport projects to go ahead

29-06-2016 15:38 updated | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Republic has won clearance from the European Commission to proceed with 10 large transport and infrastructure projects without the need to launch new Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs). Brussels has had problems with the fact that dozens of Czech projects were given approval under old assessments that in some cases pre-date the country’s accession to the European Union in 2004. The news was given by prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka, currently in Brussels for a European Summit. Some of the key projects have a European as well as Czech dimension. 

Moravský Krumlov wins auction for local stately home

29-06-2016 14:54 | Chris Johnstone

The town of Moravský Krumlov has purchased ownership of its stately home after the property was auctioned off. The property was formerly used to house Czech artist Alfons Mucha’s Slav Epic series of paintings before they were moved to Prague. Town authorities are seeking to partly revive its lost tourist appeal and earnings by creating an arts and cultural centre at the stately home. They also have some hopes that the Slav Epic might be returned in the future. 

Nine injured in crash of Czech bus in Germany

29-06-2016 14:54 | Chris Johnstone

Nine people were injured when a Czech bus hit a stationary vehicle on the motorway near Dortmund, Germany. Apart from the Czech driver, none of the injured are Czech according to the bus operator, Eurolines. The bus was on the route between London and Berlin with 42 passengers on board, according to the bus company. German police are investigating how the accident happened. 

Czech president says current EU leadership is abject

29-06-2016 14:53 updated | Chris Johnstone

Czech president Miloš Zeman has said one of the main factors for the British referendum decision to leave the EU was its poor leadership. He added that compared with giants of the past, like Jacques Delors and Jean Monnet, the current leadership are in the second league. The Czech head of state added that the British exit is a loss for the country and the remaining 27 states. He added that he expected Scotland will break away from the rest of Britain and re-join the EU within five years. 

Trial of underpants art activists starts in Prague

29-06-2016 13:21 | Chris Johnstone

The trial has started of three art activists from the Ztohoven group who last year made headlines when they erected a giant pair of red underpants on Prague castle in protest at the policies of president Miloš Zeman. They could face jail sentences of up to three years on charges of theft and damage to property. One of the defendants challenged the ability of the lead judge to try the case, pointing out judges are appointed by the head of state. He also contested the 100,000 crown bill that has been estimate by presidential authorities for damage done during the stunt. 

Lower house pushes ahead with changes to party financing rules

29-06-2016 13:20 | Chris Johnstone

Lawmakers in the lower house have voted new rules for financing political parties that look like setting a 3.0 million crown a year ceiling for donations by companies and individuals. The proposed new rules look likely to increase the payments made for votes gained in local, regional, and parliament elections. The bill would also seek to create a new agency for overseeing election spending which now looks like it will be based in Brno rather than Prague. 

Europe must intensify cooperation in response to terrorism, says Czech PM after Turkey attacks

29-06-2016 06:42 | Ian Willoughby

Tuesday’s terrorist attack in Turkey is a fresh reminder of the dangers of terrorism, which cannot be underestimated or forgotten about in the shadow of debates surrounding Brexit, says the Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka. Speaking in Brussels where he is attending EU meetings focused on the UK’s decision to quit the bloc, Mr. Sobotka said the European Union needed to intensify cooperation among member states in the battle against terrorism. A suicide and gun attack on Istanbul’s airport left at least 36 dead and more than 140 injured. 

New bill means large retail outlets must close on state holidays

29-06-2016 06:36 | Ian Willoughby

Large retail outlets in the Czech Republic will have to close on seven state holidays every year after the Chamber of Deputies approved a Senate bill implementing the change. The lower house was voting for the second time on the matter; it had originally voted that big shops be closed only on three state holidays but the Senate insisted that it reconsider its original wording. It must now be signed by the president. The ban – which applies to stores with floor space of 200 m2 or more – has been condemned by the Chamber of Commerce and was rejected by the right-wing parties in the lower house. 

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