Economist Jan Švejnar, who was considered one of the hot candidates in the upcoming presidential elections, has announced he will not be running for office. Mr. Švejnar said in a press release on Tuesday that he wanted to pursue his academic and consultancy activities. The Czech-born US based economist ran for office in 2008 when he was beaten in a tight race by President Vaclav Klaus.
The head of the National Theatre Ondřej Černý was allegedly dismissed for poor financial management. At a press conference in Prague on Tuesday Deputy Culture Minister Martin Sankot said Mr. Černý had failed to draft a satisfactory 2013 budget on the funds earmarked for the theatre. Earlier Minister Alena Hanáková said the theatre head was being dismissed because she was not happy with the pace of the ongoing merger of the National Theatre and the Prague State Opera. Petitions are being signed in support of the director and the theatre’s management has called for the culture minister’s dismissal.
The government will meet to debate the 2013 budget on Wednesday. The budget is tailored to a 100 billion crown deficit which should bring the gap in public finances to under 3 percent of the GDP. Expenditures are projected at 1,185 billion crowns, revenues at 1,085. The proposed budget hangs on the approval of government proposed tax-hikes which parliament recently rejected and which the government sent back unrevised linked to a vote of confidence in the Nečas administration. The government is also expected to discuss measures taken in connection with the methanol poisoning scare.
A Prague court has revoked the 14 million crown bail for MP David Rath set by a lower instance court. The court ruled on the basis of an appeal by the state attorney on the case who argued that there were legal reasons to keep Rath in custody, among others the possibility that he might try to influence witnesses or flee from justice. The former central Bohemian governor is facing trial on corruption charges after being caught with an alleged 7 million crown bribe on his person.
Two Czechs have been arrested on spying charges in Greece. The men –aged 28 and 33 - were detained for taking photos and recording video footage of a Greek military base and an airport on Lemnos Island. The men said in their defense they had made the documentation for a computer game they were working on. They are to be transported to Lesbos Island where they will be questioned by a state prosecutor.
The Health Ministry has ordered emergency inspections of alcoholic beverages in cafeterias and restaurants on Monday in the whole of the Czech Republic, following a string of cases of Methane Alcohol poisoning in different cities since last week. So far, three people have died as a result of poisoning, and a number of others were hospitalized in grave condition. The most recent case was in the central Bohemian city of Příbram, where a man was admitted on Sunday night after losing his sight. If the inspectors find any hard alcohol of questionable origin, the information will be immediately handed over to the police.
The trial of 52 defendants accused of manipulating state tenders at the Defense Ministry began Monday morning at the Regional Court in České Budejovice, South Bohemia. Eleven former employees of the Defense Ministry, 38 representatives of private businesses, two notaries and a lawyer are being accused of influencing reconstruction tenders worth 300 million crowns in five different cities. Ninety minutes after the beginning of trial, almost all of the defense lawyers left the court room in protest, claiming that the conditions were not appropriate for trying the case. The largest court room in the regional court could barely fit all of the persons involved in the trial, and defense lawyers complained of having little room at their desk. The trial may last for as long as a year, a member of the judging panel has said.
The Supreme Court of the Czech Republic has rejected an appeal from the head of the Midwives Union, Ivana Königsmarková, on Monday. Last year, Ms Königsmarková received a two-year suspended sentence for negligence resulting in grievous bodily harm during a home birth, and was banned from carrying out home births for five years. She was accused of not carrying out proper CPR procedures on a newborn after complications at birth. The defendant has maintained her innocence throughout the trial. Ms Königsmarková said she will take her appeal to the Constitutional Court. Home births are highly frowned upon by the Czech medical establishment, and birth assistants are usually unable to get proper license to carry out births in the home.
The Czech Supreme Audit Office (NKÚ) has concluded that more than 27 million crowns were incorrectly disbursed as part of the Czech Northeastern regional operational programme in 2007-2011. NKÚ controlled 13 projects that were funded with 373 million crowns from EU subsidies. The regional council, which is the body in charge of selecting projects for funding and distributing funds, has allegedly broken a number of regulations concerning the assessment of submitted project proposals. The NKÚ says the council’s decision process was subjective and lacked transparency. These irregularities are grounds for a request to return the funds.