Prime Minister Petr Nečas has called the continuing dispute between reinstated Chief Prague Prosecutor Vlastimil Rampula and aides and other officials at the High State Prosecutor’s Office in Prague “critical”, saying that he expected the justice minister to calm the situation. He made the comment in response to growing discord between sides at the prosecutor’s office, which flared up after the Municipal Court reversed Mr Rampula’s dismissal last year. He was fired in July by Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil on the suspicion that he had been holding up key corruption investigations, but has now returned to his post. Mr Pospíšil suggested this week that if Mr Rampula was not recalled again, this time by the Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman, he would no longer stay on in government.
An intense police search is underway for two unidentified assailants who
tried to firebomb a boarding-house in Aš, West Bohemia in the early hours
of Sunday. According to a police spokesman two men, roughly 180
in height, threw several Molotov cocktails at the building, luckily only
damaging the façade and a window; no one inside the building was hurt.
Because some of the boarding-house inhabitants are ethnic Roma, police are
investigating the attack as possibly being racially-motivated. Aš will
police reinforcements from Cheb help monitor the situation in the coming
According to the Czech news agency, the Czech Republic has seen eleven firebomb attacks against Roma or Roma families since 2002; ten of those have taken place since 2007. The most infamous such deed, in 2009, left a little girl severely injured and with lifelong trauma. Four men were found guilty of the racially-motivated attack and sentenced to terms of 20 and 22 years in prison. Not all the attacks noted by ČTK were racially-motivated,: some were a settling of scores. Most of the attacks, luckily, also did not lead to personal injury.
The opposition Social Democrats have slammed additional reform plans to be discussed by some government ministers on Monday, coming out against the finance minister’s plan to raise the VAT to 20 percent and other measures. According to Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka the raised VAT would slow the economy and negatively impact tax revenues; in his view, the country’s centre-right government needed to raise taxes on firm and reintroduce a progressive income tax rate instead. In the opposition party’s view, lower-income families will be the hardest hit if the plans go ahead.
The Czech news website idnes has reported a planned parking complex which
was to have gone hand-in-hand with the extension of Prague’s “A” (or
Green) metro line will not be built. The planned multi-level parking site
would have cost the city roughly 1.3 billion crowns, funds Prague lacks,
the Deputy Mayor for Transport Josef Nosek confirmed. The planned site was
to have accommodated 600 cars – mostly for motorists from Kladno and
surrounding areas just outside of the capital. Instead, existing parking
space will have to suffice.
The news site reports that that could lead to difficulties, with motorists being left little choice but to “flood” local residential areas; to complicate matters, the site notes, the district of Prague 6 is currently planning on introducing so-called blue zones, requiring annual parking permits, in Dejvice and Bubeneč. Four new metro stations are being added to the “A” line: Červený Vrch, Veleslavín, Petřiny and Motol. The new stations are to open in 2014.
Water levels on numerous rivers and streams throughout the country dropped on Saturday night lessening flood threats. A number of mid-level alerts, nevertheless, remain in effect in places. For example, water on the Svratka, in the Brno area, rose by 3.5 metres due to collected ice floes. Those are to be removed using explosives. The situation in the region of Liberec, north of Prague, improved with some streams that had broken their banks returning to regular levels.
Police in Jablonec nad Nisou are investigating the death of a taxi driver on Saturday; the deceased was found in the trunk of his vehicle on Sunday morning. His dispatcher lost contact with the driver around 12 am the previous night. An autopsy has been ordered to determine the exact cause of death.
In the NHL, Czech forward Jiří Hudler helped the Detroit Red Wings mount
a comeback against the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, scoring twice in
third period and earning one assist to bring the Wings within one.
Colorado, however, were able to hold on and take the match 4:3. Hudler was
named the game’s third star.
In other action, Czech goalie Michal Neuwirth won his second-straight game, stopping 28 shots by the Toronto Maple Leafs. Washington won 4:2 at Toronto.
The Czech Justice Minister, Jiří Pospišíl, has suggested in an interview for Lidové noviny that if the newly-reinstated Chief Prague Prosecutor Vlastimil Rampula is not recalled by the supreme state attorney, he will leave the government. The chief prosecutor was sacked last July on the suspicion that he had been holding up key corruption investigations; last year, the Czech branch of Transparency International called Rampula’s dismissal necessary for the restoration of public trust in the office. However, in an appeal Mr Rampula’s dismissal was thrown out as unjustified by the Prague Municipal Court. In the Saturday’s interview, the justice minister nevertheless repeated that he stood behind changes that had been made at the prosecutor’s office and said if possible that he would push ahead with additional plans.
In related news, the battle between officials at the Prague High State Attorney’s office took a new turn on Friday with the newly-reinstated Vlastimil Rampula saying he would file a criminal complaint against his predecessor, Stanislav Mečl, and others for alleged illegal intrusion into a close aide’s office. The complaint is to be formally filed on Monday. The reinstated chief prosecutor, who showed CCTV images of the alleged intrusion at a press conference, also demanded an explanation from Mr Mečl and Supreme State Prosecutor Pavel Zeman. The images screened reportedly showed two individuals, accompanied by Mr Mečl, entering the offices of his deputy Libor Grygárek on the night of February 17.
Melting ice and snow have raised water levels on numerous rivers
throughout the country leading to a number of flood threats. Regions where
warnings are in place include Hradec Králové, South Moravia and Olomouc.
The highest alert is in place in the area of Česká Lípa; the warnings,
issued by the Czech Hydometeorological Institute, will remain in effect
until noon on Sunday. It is expected that a drop in temperatures in
Saturday night will quell flood dangers.
Waterways in the Liberec region experienced problems on Saturday with two ice floes breaking away on the Jizera River: ten recreational homes were flooded in Dolní Sytové. In some places garages were flooded. Large pieces of accumulated ice saw a waterway break its banks in the regions of Plzeň where fire fighters intervened: bulldozers are being used to break up the ice pieces to free up the flow to try and prevent further flooding.