The head of the country’s elite organized crime squad Robert Šlachta is in trouble for allegedly giving a suspect advance warning of his planned arrest. The suspect formerly worked for the police force in a subordinate position to the police chief. Mr. Šlachta has rejected the accusation, claiming it is an attempt to discredit him. A police inspection is investigating the case.
Interior Minister Jan Kubice has cancelled seven projects launched by his predecessor that cost the ministry 128 million crowns. Interior Ministry spokesman Pavel Novák told the daily Lidové Noviny that the programmes, which were mostly for training clerks or restricting administration, were scrapped based on a detailed analysis of their sustainability. The minister himself told the paper the programmes were “absolutely worthless”. Former interior minister Radek John, who launched the projects with EU funding but spent considerable resources on their preparation, criticised the decision and said he would be seeking an explanation. The Interior Ministry anticipates a budget of 700 million crowns less in 2012 and its operational expenses have been a frequent cause of concern this year.
Petr Dvořák, the former head of commercial TV Nova, has been elected the new executive director of Czech Public Television. Mr. Dvořák, a hot favourite from the first round, won twelve votes from the 15 member Czech radio and TV council. Chairman Milan Uhde said Dvorak had presented an impressive policy concept and was clearly the best candidate. In his analysis of Czech Television’s performance Mr. Dvořák criticized the work of the news and current affairs departments, said public television was bogged down in a production crisis and stressed the need for more educational programmes for children. He is to take up his post on October 1st.
A Prague district court on Wednesday handed the head of the Czech Association of Midwives Ivana Konigsmarkova a two year suspended sentence for inflicting grievous bodily harm through negligence. The midwife assisted a difficult home birth which lasted for the better part of three days and resulted in the child suffering severe brain damage. Doctors said later that with proper hospital care the mother could have delivered a perfectly healthy baby. They blamed the midwife for failing to assess the situation correctly and call for a doctor and ambulance.
A financial audit at the Education Ministry for 2010 has revealed mistakes in accounting to the tune of 5.7 billion crowns. The Audit Office said in its report that the mistakes were most likely the result of chaos in accounting following the introduction of a new system. The biggest single missing sum of 1.7 billion was lent to Masaryk University in Brno for the construction of a new campus but was not entered in the ministry’s accounting books. Other large transfers of money were also incorrectly registered.
A twenty-two year old hunter died in what investigators believe to have been a freak accident. The hunter had wondered away from his two colleagues to stalk a deer, and was later found dead lying next to the slain animal. He appears to have shot himself in the head while re-loading or been killed by a ricocheting bullet.
Two Czechs who attempted to cross the US border illegally have been sentenced to 77 days in prison and fined 120 dollars. A third companion who had a travel permit but broke the law in assisting them is still awaiting his verdict. The man and woman, a married couple, had been in the States previously and had been evicted. They tried to cross the border illegally on their bikes while on a visit to the International Peace Garden. All three were apprehended by border guards.
The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday cut down its forecast of next
year’s growth of the Czech economy from a previously estimated 2.9
percent to 1.8 percent of the gross domestic product. At the same time,
IMF slightly upped its estimate for this year’s growth to 2.0 percent.
The renewed estimates are part of a global economy outlook which is
threatened by the EU’s debt crisis and the lack of a fiscal plan in the
US. The Czech Finance Ministry in July predicted the country’s growth in
2012 at 2.5 percent.
Several Czech analysts said the IMF’s outlook for the Czech economy reflected worsening global conditions but also warned that the reality might be much worse should the EU’s leading economies slip into recession.
The American Republican Senator Charles Grassley again held up the
nomination of the American ambassador to Prague, Norman Eisen, the Czech
news agency ČTK reported on Tuesday quoting US Senate records. This means
that Mr Eisen, who was appointed to the post at the end of last year for a
period of 12 months, might soon have to leave office.
Senator Grassley, who objects to Mr Eisen’s role in the sacking of another White House official, held up Mr Eisen’s nomination in 2009. But President Barack Obama appointed him temporarily taking advantage of a loophole allowing the president to push through nominations while Congress is in recess. The post of the US ambassador to Prague had been vacant for two years before Norman Eisen took office.
At a session of the Czech lower house that began on Tuesday, MPs are debating a constitutional bill that would introduce a popular vote for the president. The bill however does not enjoy overall support in the house despite having been put forth by both the coalition and opposition parties. While the centre-right coalition would like to increase the powers of a directly-elected president, opposition Social Democrats and Communists expressed concern that a head of state with extended powers might become a tool of partial interests. If approved by both houses of Parliament and signed into law by the president, it would allow people to choose the successor of Václav Klaus in a direct vote in 2013.