The Czech police have been looking into a matter of possible corruption in
a recent presidential pardon: the spokesman for the police presidium,
Jaroslav Ibehej, confirmed on Monday that investigators from the
anti-corruption unit were currently gathering information but would assess
only later whether to launch criminal proceedings.
The case is related to the pardon of former policewoman, Radka Kadlecová, who served at the Foreigners Police branch in Karlovy Vary. A court found her guilty of accepting bribes and sentenced her to prison. The Czech weekly Respekt reports that after suffering a nervous breakdown Kadlecová confided in two people – one of them a psychiatrist – that a pardon had already been arranged with the president. She also alleged that bribes had been accepted by the president’s aides. Respekt has suggested that an influential relative may also have played a role. Ms Kadlecová was pardoned in 2009.
Reacting on Monday, the president’s spokesman Radim Ochvat categorically denied the former policewoman’s story. He said the system for assessing pardon requests prevented such abuse.
Martin Roman, the former CEO of the Czech state-controlled energy producer ČEZ, has admitted past links to one of the firm’s major suppliers, the engineering company Škoda Plzeň, the daily Hospodářské noviny reports. Mr Roman told the paper he had had links to the firm Appian Machinery, the owner of Škoda Plzeň since 2006, through the companies Artwick Investments and The California Trust. The two are share-holders in Appian. Roman, who stepped down as ČEZ’s chief executive officer last month, is suspected of possible conflict of interest as Škoda Plzeň supplied ČEZ with machinery worth billions of Czech crowns. The connection was first reported last week by the daily Mladá fronta Dnes and the matter is being looked into by the anti-corruption police. In his defence, Mr Roman told the daily he left the companies connected to Appian immediately after he took over as ČEZ CEO.
The prosecution of five Prague City Hall employees, suspected of having
broken the law on public tenders in the Opencard case, will continue after
a complaint by the defence was dismissed as insubstantial by the state
prosecutor. Charges against four of the five have since been broadened.
five suspects were charged by the police in August: they are suspected of
having signed several disadvantageous contracts with providers and of
breaking the law on tenders in the choice of the company Haguess to
the city travel and service cards after the firm failed to meet all
Prague’s Opencard serves as a transit pass and is also used for other services such as the borrowing of library books. Critics charge that the project – which cost more than 800 million crowns – was drastically overpriced.
The Czech internet daily idnes has suggested that some members of the
Social Democratic Party are weighing former prime minister and EU
commissioner for employment and social affairs Vladimír Špidla as a
potential candidate for president. The daily cited two highly-placed
sources in the party as saying Mr Špidla was a possibility. According to
the website, the Social Democrats are serious in pursuing direct
presidential elections to replace the current system, where the
head-of-state is elected in a joint-session of Parliament. But it is
thought the leftist party will only make a final decision on a candidate
the first half of next year – roughly twelve months before Václav Klaus
completes his final term.
The deputy chairman of the Czech Senate Přemysl Sobotka, from political rivals the Civic Democrats, has already announced his intention to run and asked for his party’s support. It is thought that Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg, of TOP 09, might also consider a bid.
The partial collapse of a building in Olomouc on Monday claimed the life of a 78-year-old who was struck by falling debris from the facade as it spilled into the street. Nine people were evacuated from inside the building but were unhurt. The tragedy unfolded on Monday morning in the city centre. The falling debris also brought down overhead tram cables. The accident is being investigated by the police. People in the building claimed they knew of no problems and the facade was reportedly redone just a few years ago.
A Czech court has handed a three-year suspended sentence to a Swiss national found guilty of high-speed wrong-way driving on the D10 highway between Liberec and the Czech capital. The motorist, who recklessly caused six accidents in which nine vehicles crashed (no one was seriously hurt), admitted to having been under the influence of the illegal drug methamphetamine. He had faced between three to eight years behind bars. Besides receiving a suspended sentence, the defendant has been banned from driving for six years.
Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza has officially taken up his duties as Papal Nuncio to the Czech Republic. He was appointed last month. At Prague Castle on Monday, the archbishop was welcomed by Czech President Václav Klaus. The Vatican had been without an ambassador to Prague since May. Until recently, Giuseppe Leanza was based in Ireland.
Proposed legislation to be debated in the lower house, could give the Czech government in the future the right to nationalise abandoned buildings – currently left to rot or boarded up. Changes in the current law would mean that abandoned castles but also squats could either be rebuilt or at least be better secured to prevent potential accidents. The law would reportedly apply to buildings abandoned by owners for 10 years or more, and owners would be allowed a final chance to assume responsibility before losing the property for good. idnes reports that sites that have been left to decay are numerous throughout the country, including former hotels or chateaux, sometimes in prominent areas. The threat of losing the property, it is thought, could push some owners to at last take steps to improve the situation.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová has moved up to 4th place in the world in the women’s WTA singles rankings, after winning her fifth WTA title this season at the weekend in Linz. By the end of the week, she could even move to the No. 3 spot now dominated by Azarenka, ČTK reported and could have a shot at the top spot if the player does well in remaining competitions. On the men’s circuit, Tomáš Berdych is the world No. 7.
Around 200 fans of football club Slavia Prague gathered carrying placards
outside the club’s stadium on Monday to protest against Frantíšek
Straka, who in the past headed archrivals Sparta, becoming head coach. The
demonstrators marched from their home stadium to Viktoria Žiźkov, where
the team is playing on Monday evening, to make their dislike known.
who managed the national squad for just one game in 2009, was a favourite
among Sparta fans but Slavia and Sparta have a rivalry that goes back
As a player back in the 1980s, Straka won 35 caps for Czechoslovakia, and spent ten years in Germany’s Bundesliga. As a manager, however, his only success came with Teplice and Sparta Prague in the Czech cup.