The Regional Court in Brno has overturned a nearly one billion crown fine imposed by the antitrust office (UOHS) on sixteen international engineering companies for forming a cartel. The fine was the highest that UOHS has imposed in its history. The case will now be returned to UOHS, unless the antitrust watchdog files a complaint with the Supreme Administrative Court. The court did not deny existence of a cartel, or the fact that it affected the Czech market, but ruled that it was unclear which companies from which concerns had taken part in it. UOHS welcomed the confirmation of the cartel, and said only it would be considering what steps to take next.
The anti-corruption police on Wednesday asked the lower house of
Parliament to allow the prosecution of MP, and deputy speaker of the house
Vlasta Parkanová, from the coaltition TOP 09 party, for her role in the
2009 purchase of the CASA transport aircraft for the Czech army. The police
believe Ms Parkanová, who served as defence minister between 2007 and
2009, abused her authority while supervising the 3.6 billion-crown deal,
and caused damages worth 658 million crowns. MP Parkanová said she was
shocked to learn about the petition while her party colleagues said the
decision to buy the Spanish-made transport planes was made by the whole
The government signed the contract in 2009, a day before Ms Parkanová stepped down along with other members of the cabinet. The Defence Ministry awarded the contract without a public tender.
The lower house of Parliament on Wednesday passed legislation that will slow down the growth of retirement pensions between 2013 and 2015. The legislation, part of the government’s austerity measures, will now be debated in the Senate. If approved, pensions will grow by 156 crowns a month rather than 428 crowns which means the state budget will save up to 50 billion crowns over the next three years. The opposition-controlled Senate is however likely to reject the bill.
MPs on Wednesday also approved a bill introducing rules for direct presidential elections. If approved by the Senate and signed into law by the president, the legislation will establish a 50-million financial limit for the candidates’ campaigns. Each candidate will be allowed to spend 40 million crowns on his or her campaign for the election’s first round, and another 10 million for the second. Direct presidential elections will be held for the first time in February 2013 to select a successor to President Václav Klaus.
The Czech road authority has cancelled a series of public tenders for construction planning projects, a spokeswoman for the transportation ministry said on Wednesday. The projects were included in one large tender which could lead to a higher price than if the projects were procured individually, the ministry said. A total of 34 such projects have been cancelled, most of them related to the construction of the D3 motorway connecting Prague with Austria, and to the Prague ring road.
One of the last surviving members of WWII airborne Czechoslovak commandoes, Robert Matula, died in his Canadian home in Victoria on Tuesday, aged 93. Robert Matula, a native of Radvanice near Ostrava, was airlifted to the Nazi-occupied Czech territory in September 1944 as part of the Operation Wolfram and fought the German army until the end of the war. He left Czechoslovakia again after the communist coup in 1948 and settled in Canada ten years later. In 2009, he was promoted to the rank of brigadier general in recognition of his war-time actions.
Some 25 mediaeval stone blocks from Prague’s oldest bridges –Charles Bridge and its predecessor Judith Bridge – were removed from the Malá Strana bank of the Vltava River on Wednesday. They were taken to Prague City Museum where they will be featured in an exhibition. The stones were first found several years ago on the bottom of the river and placed on the riverbank during a recent renovation of Charles Bridge.
The police on Wednesday arrested a 42-year-old man who allegedly attacked two people in Jablonné nad Orlicí, in the north east of the country, killing a six-year-old boy. The police said the man entered a house with the two people inside. A 60-year-old woman was taken to hospital with serious injuries while the boy died after 90 minutes of resuscitation attempts. The motif of the crime remains unclear.
Medical tests on Wednesday confirmed that the Czech national team’s Petr Čech and Tomáš Rosický did not suffer serious injuries in last night’s game against Greece at the EURO 2012 tournament in Poland, and might be fit for Saturday’s match. The team captain, midfielder Tomáš Rosický retired at half time of the Czech side’s 2:1 win against Greece with an injury of his Achilles’ tendon while goalkeeper Petr Čech complained about problems with his shoulder joint. The Czech team’s doctor said chances were high of both players appearing in Saturday’s key game against the hosts Poland.
Members of the Czech national football team expressed disappointment over some of their fans’ hostility towards team coach Michal Bílek and striker Milan Baroš, the news agency ČTK reported on Wednesday. Defender David Limberský said he didn’t understand why some fans whistled at the coach and the striker after Friday’s game against Russia as well as ahead of the game against Greece on Tuesday. Milan Baroš is one of the team’s most prolific strikes but he last scored last November against Liechtenstein. Many fans also dislike his frequent dives and discussions with the referees.