News Three men sentenced to jail over solar power fraud
A court in Brno on Friday handed out prison sentences to three men for attempted fraud over the licencing of a solar power plant. The court said the owner of the plant in Držovice, south Moravia, applied for a licence in 2010 to get a higher purchase price for electricity despite the fact no solar panels were installed at the time. Higher purchase prices were only granted to plants installed before the end of that year. The plant’s owner was sentenced to 6.5 years in jail while another man, who supplied fake documents, landed a seven-year sentence. The court also sentenced an employee of the plan to 5.5 years in jail for his role in the attempted fraud.
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At a ceremony at Prague Castle President Miloš Zeman underlined the courage of those who fought for their liberty in the Prague Uprising despite the fact that the liberating US and Russian forces were near and they could have waited for their freedom. The president also spoke of the heroes who had fought with the western allies and were mercilessly persecuted and jailed by the communists in the 50s. No free and democratic country jails its heroes, the president said.
The family of a Czech paratrooper who died testing a new parachute for the army is to get four million crowns in compensation from the Defence Ministry, the Prague Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday. The paratrooper was killed after the cord of his parachute got stuck and he failed to open the reserve parachute in time. An expert investigating the accident said the tests had been poorly prepared.
The European Commission has released its spring macro-economic forecast for the Czech Republic, predicting a 2.5 percent growth in 2015 and a 2.6 percent growth next year. The deficit in public spending should be under 2 percent of the GDP and inflation at around 0.2 percent. Inflation was previously projected at 0.8, the other projections remain unchanged. The forecast is in line with that released by the Czech Finance Ministry.
More than half of Czechs trust the European Union, according to the outcome of a poll conducted by the CVVM agency. According to the results, 52 percent of respondents expressed trust in the EU while 44 did not. Trust in EU institutions slumped to an all-time low in 2014 at just 34 percent. The slump was generally attributed to the euro debt crisis, the influence of the former euro-sceptic government and negative reports in the media.
Pope Francis has named Cardinal Miloslav Vlk his legate at the upcoming events marking the 600th anniversary of the burning at stake of the Czech reformer priest Jan Hus. The ecumenical commission preparing the Hus celebrations scheduled to take place on July 5-6th says it wants to bring the public a true “unadorned” picture of the reformer priest a bring home his legacy to the young generation.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has backed the minister for human rights and minorities, Jiří Dienstbier, in his dispute with the government agency for social inclusion. The agency’s employees on Tuesday threatened strike action unless they were granted a greater degree of independence, complaining that under minister Dienstbier the agency’s management had become increasingly politicized. Minister Dienstbier recently sacked the agency’s head Martin Šimáček citing poor communication and the fact that Mr. Šimáček had refused to discuss a planned reorganization. The human rights minister has dismissed the complaints as absurd saying the agency’s employees should make up their minds whether they want to stay or leave. The prime minister made it clear he was not about to intervene on the agency’s behalf noting that its employees could not expect to decide personnel matters.
The Czech capital is marking the 70th anniversary of the Prague Uprising. On May 5th of 1945 Prague citizens rose up against the collapsing Nazi regime and some 3,000 people were killed in the fighting before Russian troops liberated the city four days later. A commemorative ceremony attended by Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka took place at Czech Radio, which played a crucial role in the uprising. Later in the day there will be celebrations and a video mapping on Old Town Square and a concert for 1,800 people at Prague’s Congress Centre.
Czech President Miloš Zeman who is to attend the end-of war celebrations in Moscow on Saturday is to meet for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the president’s office the hour-long meeting scheduled for Saturday evening is expected to focus on economic issues and the situation in Ukraine. The Czech president will not be attending the military parade on Red Square. He will join other foreign dignitaries in laying a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at the Kremlin wall and will be meeting with war veterans.
The number of anti-Semitic incidents in the Czech Republic has increased five-fold in the last four years, according to the Jewish Community in Prague. The community says it recorded 234 anti-Semitic incidents last year, including physical attacks on individuals, hate speech and vandalism at Jewish cemeteries and synagogues. Although the police have registered fewer incidents, a spokeswoman for the Jewish community says this is because they only register anti-Semitic incidents involving crime.
Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek, in a policy debate in Prague on Monday, said Czech President Miloš Zeman has read – and will approve – a new proposed foreign policy concept. The foreign minister is to officially unveil the new foreign policy road map by the end of July. If it is passed by the government it will still have to be approved by Parliament. An earlier draft was criticised for taking a soft stance on human rights and veering away from principles championed by the late ex-president and former dissident Václav Havel. Mr Zaorálek said he wanted to “work with” Mr Havel’s human rights legacy.