News Supreme Audit Office finds irregularities in Transport Ministry’s finances
The Supreme Audit Office has uncovered irregularities in the financing of the Transport Ministry. According to the results of an audit published on Monday, the ministry squandered close to 88 million crowns on dubious and unnecessary projects. The report states as a case in point two contracts for outsourcing services for “advice on cosmic activities” for which the ministry paid close to six million crowns. The Waterways Management Directorate overstepped the mark in all areas audited and an excessive amount of money was reportedly squandered on PR goods.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
Prague zoo is seeking to create a small atelier for the production of paper – from elephant droppings. Inspiration for such production comes from Asian countries, such as Sri Lanka, where such production is common. Prague City Council, which manages the zoo has set aside 2.5 million crowns to finance the facility. The main aim is that visitors themsleves could try to produce paper. The production proces involves boiling the elephant droppings in water, mashing them up, and finally heating them again and leaving the mash to dry in the sun.
Separately, police detained on Wednesday the former general secretary of the defence ministry, Jan Vylita, according to the news server Aktualne.CZ. The move is being connected with the police swoop on a ministry building on Tuesday in which four people were charged concerning the illegal transfer of property. Vylita’s security clearance was removed last month by Czech authorities meaning that he had to quit his job as one of main auditors at NATO’s headquarters in Brussels.
The Catholic Church in the Czech Republic has said bells will be rung from churches across the country in tribute to the victims of the Uherský Brod shooting last week. The tribute will last for two minutes and 20 seconds just after midday on Thursday. The Czech government recommended the step on Wednesday. As well as bells, emergency sirens in towns and cities will also go off at noon on Thursday in memory of the victims following the cancellation of the tradition practice on the first Wednesday of each month.
The head of the top Czech ice hockey league has said that talks are going on about it expanding it to Slovak teams. League manager Josef Řezníček has said talks on the subject have been tabled for the general meeting of the association of Czech ice hockey league clubs with no final standpoint yet being taken. Talks are also progressing with the Slovak association, which would have to approve the move, he said. A positive decision could mean that the two top Slovak clubs, Slovan Bratislava and Košice could join the Czech league in the new season.
Police have recommended that criminal charges be lodged against a former minister and top Ministry of Defense official over the controversial purchase of a transport plane for the army. The special police squad for uncovering corruption and financial crime made its recommendation to Prague’s Supreme State Attorney over former TOP 09 minister of defence Vlasta Parkanová and former head of the ministry’s arms purchases division, Jiří Staněk. The case concerns the purchase of CASA transport aircraft and suspected overpayments and damages to the state amounting to around 820 million crowns. If found guilty, the former minister and official could face jail sentences of up to 10 years.
Luxury carmaker BMW has warned that it could build a logistics centre in the Czech Republic if its plans to site the new centre near Regensburg, Bavaria, are thwarted, according to the daily Die Welt. At stake are around 200 jobs that could be created at the new centre. BMW’s plans for 50 hectares of agricultural land outside the city have been complicated by a battle between a local farmer whose family has been renting the land for around 150 years and the owner, the noble Thurn-Taxis family. The farmer has refused offers of other land and a long drawn out legal battle is now looming.
The Czech government will on Wednesday for the first time discuss the Uherský Brod shooting during which a 63-year-old gunman shot dead eight people in a restaurant before taking his own life. The discussion will focus on a summary of the information collected so far by the Ministry of Interior and a precise timeline of the events which took place on February 24. The ministry and police have been on the defensive following the worst attack of its kind in recent Czech history. It was later revealed that police intervention occurred hours after the shootings had taken place although some individuals who had hidden in the restaurant and nearby were still at risk. Police say they had no way of knowing how many hostages the gunman had.
Former tennis star Nicole Vaidišová has lost on her return to the WTA tour after a five-year absence. The 25-year-old Czech lost 1-6 6-7 to Ana Ivanovic of Serbia in the first round of the Monterrey Open after entering the competition as a qualifier. A one-time world number seven, Vaidišová quit playing in 2010 after tumbling down the rankings. She has undergone two shoulder operations during her time away from the court.
The first ethnic Czechs being repatriated from Ukraine under a Czech government programme are now in Prague. Forty-four of them arrived at the city’s Florenc bus station on a coach from Novhorodkivka (known in Czech as Čechohrad), around 200 kilometres from where fighting has been taking place in eastern Ukraine. The Czech government has to date granted fast-track permanent residence to 140 ethnic Czechs in Ukraine. It has earmarked CZK 66 million for a repatriation programme that includes free accommodation, financial support and help finding permanent housing and employment.
Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho says if Petr Čech does leave the soccer club it will be for a high price. The Czech goalkeeper became Chelsea’s second choice between the posts after Belgian Thibaut Courtois returned from a loan spell at the start of the current season and there has been speculation he will move on in the summer. Mourinho said on Tuesday that if Čech does want to end his 11-year association with the club, with which he has won numerous titles including the Champions League, he will not try to persuade him to stay.