Czech police have charged six former managers of the coal-mining company Mostecká uhelná over their role in the firm’s privatization deal, Czech TV reported on Wednesday. The managers allegedly channeled funds earmarked for the revitalization of mining sites to bank accounts in Switzerland, and used some of them to buy the firm from the state. Swiss authorities last year charged seven people in the case which was also investigated by Czech police but shelved in 2009 due to lack of evidence.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday again postponed a final vote on a bill that would give Czech churches back their property confiscated in the 1950s. The opposition, which strongly objects to the bill, managed to block the vote by protracted debate; the lower house will return to the issue next Wednesday. Under the draft legislation, the Czech state would return some 56 percent of the physical property worth around 75 billion crowns; for the rest, Czech churches and religious societies would receive some 60 billion crowns in compensation over the period of 30 years.
The mandate and immunity committee of the lower house on Wednesday reached
no decision on whether TOP 09 MP and former defence minister Vlasta
Parkanová should be prosecuted over her role in the 2009 purchase of the
CASA transport planes for the Czech military. Members of the committee
asked the police to provide the complete case file before they will vote
recommend whether the lower house should allow Ms Parkanová’s
prosecution. The committee will meet again next Wednesday.
The police last week asked the lower house to allow the prosecution of the former defence minister who allegedly failed to provide an independent review of the 3.6-billion-crown contract which the police say was overpriced by nearly 660 million crowns.
The Czech Republic ranked 18th in the European Union in GDP per capita in 2011, up one place from the previous year, according to figures released by the bloc’s statistical body Eurostat on Wednesday. However, Czech GDP last year only reached 80 percent of the EU average. Luxembourg is the EU member state with the highest GDP per capita while the Czech Republic is the EU’s second richest former communist country after Slovenia.
More than 21 percent of secondary school students failed this year’s
nationwide school-leaving exams, Education Minister Petr Fiala told
reporters on Wednesday. Only 4 percent of students chose the more advanced
level of the exams; in total, 103,000 students took the exams this year.
The nation-wide secondary school-leaving exams, held this year for the second time, were affected by a series of problems including unclear evaluation criteria of the Czech language essays. Many students also complained that the tests in maths were too difficult and nearly 7,000 of them appealed the results. Earlier this month, Minister Fiala dismissed the head of the ministry’s department overseeing the state school-leaving exams.
An extensive renovation of the D1 motorway connecting Prague, Brno and Ostrava should start in March 2013, Transport Minister Pavel Dobeš said on Wednesday. The modernization of the oldest Czech motorway, built in the 1970s and 80s, should be completed in 2018 at the cost of 150 million crowns per kilometre. The most demanding part of the project will involve the demolition of two road bridges which will mean that between 40,000 to 60,000 vehicles will be pushed into a single lane. By 2050, another lane should be added to the D1 motorway in each direction.
A court in Hradec Králové on Wednesday sentenced a 45-year-old man to life in prison for murdering an elderly woman in February. The man killed the woman while on leave from a psychiatric facility where he was held as part of his previous sentence; in 2003 the man landed a 12-year-sentence for an attempted murder and rape of a minor. He had also served six years in a German prison for attempted rape of two women. Both the convict and prosecution have take time to consider appealing the verdict.
Two men were sentenced to 10 and 12 years in prison on Wednesday for their involvement in a multi-million crown robbery which took place in Prague in 2002. Another man, charged in the case, was acquitted over lack of evidence. The court said the two men, disguised as police officers, stopped a cash van with 154 million crowns in a Prague street, forced the driver to open the door and drove away with it. One of the sentenced men is already serving an 11-year term for other crimes while the other had fled the country.
An ossuary under St Jacob’s church in Brno opened after renovation to the public on Wednesday. The ossuary, which was established in the late 18th century, contains the skeletal remains of some 50,000 people which make it the second biggest ossuary in Europe, according to the ČTK news agency. Brno Mayor Roman Onderka said the ossuary should become an interesting site for tourists as well as a spiritual place.
Europe’s football governing body, UEFA on Wednesday banned Czech FA Cup winners Sigma Olomouc from participating in next season’s Europa League over the club’s involvement in a corruption scandal. The Czech football association fined Olomouc for allegedly bribing players from an opposing team to ensure a victory in the last round of the 2008-2009 season. The case is now being review by a court. It is not clear whether Olomouc will be replaced by another Czech team in the upcoming Europa League season.