Sociologists and NGO representatives taking part in a panel debate on Thursday night expressed the view that more women in politics and in high managerial posts would help reduce the high level of corruption in the Czech Republic. They said that women in general have a greater sense of fair play and are more inclined to play by the rules; they are also thought to be less capable of running risks and of committing fraud. Corruption is perceived by the public as being the country’s biggest problem.
Prague’s Drop-in centre for drug addicts has temporarily lost its home base and will operate from an ambulance in the coming months. The ambulance will park in a different part of Prague every day of the week. Prague City Council is assisting the centre to find a new permanent address that it can afford. The centre which helps addicts and arranges methadone substitution therapy was set up in 1991. There are estimated to be from 10,000 to 14,000 hard drug users in the Czech capital.
The Czech Food Inspection authority has ordered a grape-seed product sold in health food stores to be taken off the shelves after it was found to contain a large amount of pesticides. The product called Virde Citrus Paradisi, recommended as an immunity-boosting food supplement, was imported from Ireland by Biomedica. People have been asked to return the product to the store where they bought it. The purchase will be refunded.
The police are questioning a man who was detained in the centre of Prague in the night hours with a bag full of marihuana in his possession. The man was reportedly seen wondering in Stupartska street with dried marihuana plants poking from his luggage. The police were alerted to him by the characteristic smell of the plant.
Slovak TV Joj has reported on a growing number of cases in which British social workers allegedly removed Czech and Slovak Romany children from their families. According to the reports the latest such case happened in Nottingham where a family of Czech Romanies, recently settled in the area, had their three children forcibly taken away and placed in an institution reportedly without good reason or an explanation from the authorities. The incident is reported to have happened nine days ago. According to Joj television the British authorities have refused to comment pending a court hearing.
David Rath, formerly a prominent member of the Social Democratic Party who is to be tried for corruption, has threatened to unveil allegedly corrupt practices in financing the party’s election campaigns. In an interview for the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes Mr. Rath sent the party a thinly-veiled threat from his prison cell saying the public would soon learn how the strongest opposition party raised money for its election campaigns. The former governor of central Bohemia who has been held in custody since May after being caught with an alleged seven million crown bribe on his person, previously hinted that the money had been destined for party coffers. The party has distanced itself from Mr. Rath and maintains that its finances are above board.
In related news, the Central Bohemian state attorney’s office has appealed the bail set for former regional governor David Rath, on the grounds that he might try to influence witnesses or attempt to flee from justice. Meanwhile lawyers representing Mr. Rath have been weighing a possible complaint regarding the size of the bail which was set at 14 million crowns. Those loyal to the former central Bohemian governor have so far failed to raise the money needed for his release.
Vaclav Laska of the Czech branch of Transparency International claims the police have enough evidence of suspicious deals and manipulated tenders at the Prague Public Transport company to file charges against several former high-ranking officials. In a statement for the CTK news agency Mr. Laska said a group of people around the company’s former manager had manipulated public procurement tenders in a way that allowed them to siphon billions of crowns from the company. He said that annually approximately one billion crowns had been lost in this manner. Anti-corruption police raided the company’s offices last week after the company’s then manager filed a criminal complaint against his predecessor and several former high-ranking officials.
The TOP 09 party of the governing coalition has called for a government regulation that would prevent a massive closure of post offices in smaller towns and villages after Czech Post’s monopoly ends in 2017. The legislation approved by Parliament in June of this year obliges Czech Post to continue all unprofitable operations for a five-year period after the liberalization and obliges all private postal services providers to pay into a fund that will cover Czech Post’s losses. TOP 09 says the 5-year period is inadequate and says a long term solution needs to be found that would encourage Czech Post to save in other ways that closing down unprofitable outlets.
A regional court has confirmed a two year sentence for the Polish owner of a network of so-called Amsterdam shops which sold synthetic drugs packaged as collectors’ items. After serving his sentence he will be deported and banned from returning to the Czech Republic for a period of six years. The court found him guilty of knowingly trading in addictive drugs. The shop owner claimed that the items were marked as non-consumables and had appealed the verdict on the grounds that similar shops around Europe sell the same products without being prosecuted.