A district court judge for Ústí nad Labem has ruled that regional governor David Rath – charged with corruption – will remain in custody. The governor of Central Bohemia was caught on Monday with seven million crowns – an apparent bribe – on his person; if convicted and found guilty he could spend up to 12 years behind bars. The court on Wednesday said there was a danger that if released ahead of trial, Mr Rath could influence witnesses, attempt to escape or continue in criminal activities. State prosecutor Lenka Bradáčová has not yet said whether she will recommend for others arrested in the case to also be held. Along with Mr Rath, the police arrested seven others on Monday – four men and three women -including Kateřina Pancová, the head of Kladno Hospital and a close Rath associate.
Police uncovered an additional 30 million crowns hidden in the floor of the home of Social Democrat and Central Bohemian governor David Rath, a source close to the investigation has told daily Mladá fronta Dnes. Mr Rath was caught red-handed carrying an apparent bribe of seven million crowns. Prominent members of the Social Democratic Party on Tuesday called on Mr Rath to give up all official posts. In a statement issued through his spokeswoman, Mr Rath denied any knowledge of the bribe, claiming he had thought the shoebox he was carrying contained a bottle of wine.
Deputy governor Robin Povšík has said Mr Rath has resigned from the regional assembly and therefore as regional governor. Speaking to journalists, he said Mr Rath had been escorted by the police to his Prague office on Wednesday, where he followed through with his decision. Mr Povšík told the Czech news agency earlier that people closely connected with the former governor could be struck from a list of Social Democrat candidates ahead of regional elections in the autumn. These may include Kateřina Pancová, his assistant Patrik Tomsu and Barbora Snopková Haberová. Some sources have reported that Mr Rath could be replaced by deputy regional governor Marcel Chládek, the Social Democrats’ shadow education minister.
On Tuesday night, police also searched the office of Mr Rath’s close associate Kateřina Pancová. She is the head of Kladno Hospital in Central Bohemia and one of seven people charged along with the governor in the corruption case. The charged are suspected of having accepted bribes, having manipulated public tenders and having harmed EU interests. Some hospital staff members have expressed concerns over the developments, worrying about personnel changes. But the hospital’s deputy business and economic manager Jaroslav Pokorný told the ČTK news agency the case would have no impact on the day-to-day operation of the facility.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas has expressed shock over the corruption case
involving David Rath, not least since the Social Democrat politician was
one of his party’s most outspoken critics of corrupt practices, the Czech
news agency says. The prime minister told ČTK he hoped the case would be
seen through to the end and that it would not throw “dirt” on the
entire political scene. He also indicated he hoped the failing was only on
Mr Rath’s part and not his party’s.
Similar suggestions were made on a TV debate programme on Tuesday evening by the finance minister; prominent Social Democrat Lubomír Zaorálek responded by trying to point to scandals on the centre-right. The arrest and charging of Central Bohemian Governor David Rath is nevertheless unprecedented in at least one respect: Rath, who was under investigation by police for six months, was “caught in the act”, enabling his immediate prosecution.
The government has approved continuing the Czech Republic’s mission in Afghanistan through 2014, while gradually reducing the number of personnel. According to the plan, 539 people will serve next year, but a maximum of 340 a year after that. The gradual drawdown is in keeping with NATO’s plans to reduce alliance forces, and hand Afghans responsibility for their security in 2014. That year, some 50 Czech personnel will also serve in Iceland, helping protect Icelandic airspace. Pilots will have four Jas-39 Gripen fighter jets at their disposal.
A new poll conducted by the STEM agency has suggested that the majority of
Czechs rate the right-of-centre Civic Democratic Party as the main
proponent of government reforms, despite the fact that that not it but
fellow right-wing party TOP 09 holds key ministries, including Finance and
Health. According to the poll, 53 percent of those surveyed named the Civic
Democrats, 41 TOP 09 and just six percent the former government coalition
party Public Affairs, replaced by a political platform led by Karolína
Peake (who is founding a new party to be called LIDEM or For the People).
Those surveyed were also asked which party in government was the most thorough in seeing the government’s programme fulfilled: there, TOP 09 received 43 percent, the Civic Democrats 42. In general, government has not done well in numerous recent opinion polls, in which a majority of potential voters have expressed opposition to wide-reaching reforms.
Students on Wednesday began the second part of their high school leaving exams. Meanwhile, those who recently undertook the advanced written test in math – that was later deemed too difficult for their level – were able to learn their results on Wednesday. Although teachers officially softened marking of the botched exam, the EDUin organisation says the failure rate in the advanced math test ballooned by 360 percent compared to the previous year.
Residents and visitors in Prague and Kutná hora will be able to experience Literature Night 2012 on Wednesday. Fifteen spots in Prague’s Smíchov area will see readings of the latest translation of European authors by well-known figures such as Matěj Hádek, Miroslav Táborský and Daniela Kolářová. Dozens of cities and towns across Europe are taking part in the event.
National hockey coach Alois Hadamczik is keeping quiet about who he will put in net in the quarterfinal game between the Czech Republic and Sweden at the World Championship in ice hockey. The Czech squad - under Hadamczik – has never won against Sweden at either the Olympics or the Worlds, so players will have their work cut out for them on Thursday. The coach could go with either goalie Jakub Kovář or Jakub Štěpánek. Who will start is already known to the goalies, but both are keeping silent ahead of the match. Hadamczik told the media simply that he wanted to keep his opponents guessing.