The Swiss federal prosecution in Bern has accused seven people of money laundering and other financial crimes related to the privatization of an unspecified Czech energy firm, the Czech news agency ČTK reported on Monday. Most of the accused are Czech, according to the AFP news agency. The charges are most likely linked to the case of the dubious privatization of the brown coal mining company Mostecká uhelná, today re-named Czech Coal which Swiss prosecutors have been investigating since 2005. There are suspicions that the 1998 acquisition of the company could have been paid for by money which should have been set aside for re-cultivation of former mining sites but found its way into foreign bank accounts.
Only registered firms will be allowed to grow medical cannabis, according to a proposal by an expert group working on a bill to legalize the use of marihuana in medicine. A member of the group told reporters on Monday that abuse of medical marihuana should also be prevented by registering its users. It will still be illegal for individuals to grow cannabis plants for their own use. The group proposes medical cannabis should be grown in the country as well as imported from abroad; marihuana-based substances should be covered by health insurance. The Czech government should discuss the new bill in December.
A new survey by the STEM agency released on Monday suggests growing support for the coalition Civic Democrats. Although the opposition Social Democrats in October maintained their lead with 25.3 percent of support, the right-wing Civic Democrats enjoy the support of 15.7 percent, up from 12.9 percent in the previous month. Only two other parties would make it to the lower house: the coalition TOP 09 with 9.3 percent, and the opposition Communists with 11.2 percent.
Czech doctors and nurses’ trade unions on Monday gave the government an ultimatum to deliver on its promise of raising their salaries. If the health minister does not provide guarantees for a 10-percent raise in salaries of health workers in 2012 by November 5, union leaders say they will launch a new round of protests. For his part, Health Minister Leoš Heger said it was not his intention to back down on the pay rise.
More than 80 percent of Czechs believe political parties are corrupt, according to a new survey by the CVVM agency released on Monday. The same number, 81 percent, of those polled said parties only defend the interests of their members, while 82 percent believe parties are only interested in people’s opinions ahead of elections. Some 45 percent of people who took part in the poll believe democracy could not function without political parties, while only 25 percent said joining a party could change something.
The European Commission’s proposal for the development of transport infrastructure between 2014 and 2020 leaves out the planned Czech D3 motorway between Prague and the southern city of České Budějovice, an official of the South Bohemian region said on Monday. That means the Czech Republic would have to cover all costs of the motorway’s construction, estimated at around 50 billion crowns. Officials now want to work together with MEPs to have the planned motorway included in the proposal.
In the first nine months of this year, banks in the Czech Republic provided nearly 52,000 mortgages worth nearly 85 billion crowns, according to government data released on Monday. That represents a 42 percent increase compared to the same period last year. In 2010, the Czech mortgage market recorded a growth after a two-year decrease.
Two Czech scuba divers drowned at a popular sports destination, Schwarze Brücke on Lake Atter, in northern Austria on Sunday. The divers, aged 22 and 34 were 35 metres below the surface when they suffered difficulties, the police in Linz said. The cause of the accident is not yet known. Fellow colleagues began searching for the duo when they failed to break the surface, soon finding the body of the 34-year-old. The body of the younger diver was recovered several hours later. The lake at Schwarze Brücke is roughly 170 metres deep and the water temperature in the autumn season is only around 5 degrees Celsius.
A court in Zlín, in the east of the country, on Monday sentenced an Irish citizen to six years and two months in jail for fraud. The court said the 52-year-old fugitive Irishman committed fraud worth 19 million crowns in his position as the executive manager of the bankrupt firm Moravian Aviation between 2005 and 2008. The court also banned the man from holding executive positions in business companies for seven years.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová on Monday moved up a notch to career-high world number three in the WTA’s ranking following her victory at the Linz tournament last week. The 21-year-old Wimbledon champion switched places with Victoria Azarenka, from Belarus, whom she’ll play in the first round of the WTA Championships in Istanbul on Tuesday. The number one among Czech men, Tomáš Berdych, remains at seventh place of the ATP rankings.