In related news, the Prague Municipal Court, which on Tuesday made available the full text of the verdict, said Mr. Rampula’s dismissal was not sufficiently justified. The ruling has also undermined the position of Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil who sacked Mr. Rampula at the request of Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman. Some observers claim that the controversy may be linked to efforts by the junior coalition party Public Affairs to gain control of the Justice Ministry, a claim the party has strongly rejected.
The victim of a judicial error is demanding 35 million crowns in compensation. Jan Šafránek who was wrongly sentenced for rape spent a year in prison before police caught up with the real culprit. In one of the first court rulings on the case a Prague district court ordered the Justice Ministry to pay Šafránek 366 000 crowns in compensation relating to lost profits. The Prague Supreme Court is to decide how much Šafránek should get for the trauma he suffered and damage to his reputation. Commentators say this is one of the most glaring cases of judicial error in the country’s modern history.
A rise in alcohol consumption among teenagers has resulted in a move to tighten punishment for selling alcohol to minors. The National Anti-Drug Coordinator Jindrich Voboril on Tuesday confirmed that a proposed amendment to the law should significantly raise fines for the offense and should give the authorities the right to close down for several days pubs which repeatedly break the law. According to a survey by ESPAD – the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs – 21 percent of Czech 16-year olds go on a drinking spree at least three times a month, 15 percent of those drink spirits. The number of teenage girls who drink beer has doubled since 1995.
Economist Jan Švejnar, whom the Social Democrats are considering fielding as their candidate for the post of president, has said he is not yet certain he wants to enter the race. Mr. Švejnar said he would prefer to see the new election rules which Parliament has yet to agree on before making up his mind. The US-based economist is slated as one of the two hot candidates for the post together with the former prime minister Jan Fischer. The other Social Democrat nominee being considered is Social Democrat deputy head Jiří Dienstbier.
Czech detectives are looking into a second reprieve granted by President Václav Klaus under dubious circumstances, according to the news website Tyden.cz. Citing anonymous sources, the website writes that Mr Klaus suspended the five-year prison sentence of businessman Tomáš Malina, who was convicted of fraud worth hundreds of millions of crowns. The reprieve was reportedly based on Mr Malina’s medical condition, however the prison service says his health is good and that he should begin serving his sentence. The article goes on to say that two anonymous pieces of information provided to the state attorney´s office show that Mr Malina manipulated health reports and paid to arrange the reprieve via a friend of Mr Klaus, Václav Petr. Last week it emerged that a woman convicted of corruption and pardoned by the president had been in contact with his wife, Livia, on a regular basis.
Actor and senator for the Civic Democratic party Tomáš Topfer is to head Prague’s prestigious Vinohrady Theatre as of September 1st. He will be replacing 72-year-old Jindrich Gregorini who earlier announced his decision to retire. Topfer, a well known theatre actor who has headed another Prague theatre –Na Fidlovačce – since 1998, received unanimous support from Prague councilors. His senatorial mandate is due to expire in the autumn.
The extended weekend metro service in the Czech capital will soon be a thing of the past. Prague city councilors on Tuesday voted unanimously to scrap the extended service of Prague’s metro and bus lines one hour past midnight on Friday and Saturday nights. The decision was taken for financial reasons and other restrictions are expected to follow. It is not yet clear when the change to metro and bus schedules will be introduced.
President Václav Klaus has signed the new Civil Code into law, his spokesman Radim Ochvat said on Monday. The 3,000-paragraph bill will take effect in 2014 and will introduce three basic spheres of private law: family, ownership and contracts. The Justice Ministry has hailed the new codex as ensuring better protection for the rights of citizens and coming closer to modern European law, while shedding Communist-era legislation; some critics on the political Left have countered that it benefits owners and the wealthy. The approval of the new Civil Code was ten years in the making and was one of the current government’s top priorities. The civil code currently in effect was first implemented in 1964 and, despite being updated since, failed to take into account all areas of modern life.
Prague’s Municipal Court confirmed on Monday that the former head of the Prague police, Vladimír Kotrouš, facing trial for alleged corruption, could be released from custody. The former official was being held on the grounds he could try and influence witnesses. The court upheld a decision by the district court for Prague 9 and rejected an appeal by the state prosecutor. Mr Kotrouš left Prague’s Pankác prison shortly before 1 pm but refused to talk to reporters. The suspect is being investigated by the police for having accepted at least one bribe; detectives from the country’s anti-organised crime taskforce suspect he received several million crowns in return for awarding a multi-million-crown contract to a private firm. If found guilty in the case, he could face up to 12 years in prison.
The Czech daily Lidové noviny has reported that police wiretaps show that
former Metropolitan University Prague director Anna Benešová –
convicted in 2011 of embezzlement, bribery and the abuse of trust (but
pardoned last week by President Václav Klaus) - spoke with the
president’s wife Livia on a regular basis. The two reportedly
communicated over the phone so often that it raised suspicion among
investigators that a pardon would be granted, the daily said.
Last year Mrs Benešová received a two-year-suspended sentence and four years probation by Prague’s Municipal Court. The president’s spokesman said last week she had been granted a pardon over the need to care for her husband, who is seriously ill – although her sentence had no effect on her ability to provide assistance. President Klaus has said he was unaware of his wife’s relationship with the former university head and has since offered an additional explanation for having granted clemency, suggesting that the former university director had been "through enough".