The central satellite navigation center of the European space agency’s Galileo program will begin full operation on Thursday in Prague’s Holešovice district. The Galileo system or GSA, is the European answer to the American GPS navigation system, and should be launched sometime in 2014 or 2015. The European space agency already has two out of the necessary 18 satellites in orbit and two more should be launched in early October. The central navigation center was originally based in Brussels. The Czech Republic was selected out of 12 EU countries to host the center.
The Brno state attorney Jan Petrásek rejected a complaint on Wednesday filed by Ronald Adams, the CEO of Czech truck maker Tatra, over an investigation into alleged corruption charges against him. Mr Adams was accused of offering a bribe in order to win a Defense Ministry tender in 2009. The charges were filed by the same state attorney in August. The 62-year-old American immediately filed a complaint against the investigation after a court decided he does not need to be remanded in custody for its duration. The main witnesses against Mr Adams are former Defense Minister Martin Barták and arms dealer Michal Smrž, who are also being investigated for corruption in a case where Mr Adams is one of the key witnesses.
There are 761 centenarians living in the Czech Republic, according to figures provided by the Czech Social Security Administration. 318 women and 65 men will or have turned 100 in 2012. At the same time last year there were 625 people living in the Czech Republic who were 100 or more years old. The oldest person living in the Czech Republic was born in 1904 and is currently residing in Moravia. The percentage of people above 65 in the Czech Republic is becoming greater with each year, as people are living longer. Analysts say this will create a significant strain on the social security system. By mid-century statisticians predict there will be over 10,000 centenarians in the country.
A Brno regional court will hear on Wednesday the case of three-time national boxing champion and member of the Olympic team Ľudovít Plachetka, who is accused of raping his girlfriend’s 20-year-old sister. The boxer, who had already served a prison sentence for manslaughter, may face up to 12 years in prison. The verdict is expected on Friday.
Czech paralympic cyclist Jiří Ježek won the first gold medal for the Czech Republic at the London Paralympic games on Wednesday. This is the eleventh medal for Ježek, making him the most successful cyclist in paralympic history. His team member, Jiří Bouška, picked up a bronze medal in the same competition. The Czech paralympic team has so far won 10 medals in London.
Prime Minister Petr Necas said on Tuesday he was prepared to stake his
government's future on winning parliamentary approval for controversial tax
hikes aimed at reducing the gap in public spending. The proposed bill
includes a 1 percent hike in the lower and basic VAT rates to 15 and 21
percent respectively in 2013 and a “solidarity tax for the rich”
pertaining to people earning more than 100,000 crowns a month for a period
of three years. The bill, earlier rejected by the Senate, has divided the
lower house with some members of the prime minister’s own Civic Democrats
refusing to support it on the grounds that it would strangle the economy.
The governing coalition which now has 100 deputies in the lower house would
need to muster 101 votes to overturn the Senate’s veto. However six Civic
Democrat deputies have indicated they will not support the bill.
At a meeting of his party’s deputies club on Tuesday Prime Minister Petr Nečas said he was prepared to link the fate of the government to the said bill in a repeat vote should it be rejected. He said the ruling coalition would have no reason to remain in office if it were unable to fulfill its primary goal –fulfilling its fiscal consolidation plan.
The ongoing session of the lower house, which is also set to debate a controversial bill on church restitutions, was badly disrupted on Tuesday by a bout of filibustering by the opposition Public Affairs. The party announced its intention to obstruct debate on the bills in question in view of getting the lower chamber to discuss last week’s sacking of the police president which party leader Radek John described as an unprecedented attack on democracy. He accused the government of trying to sabotage the work of the police in investigating corruption in high places and said the present administration had completely lost its legitimacy.
Police on Tuesday raided the offices of the Usti regional administration arresting six people. Among those detained was the governor’s deputy Pavel Kouda. According to Czech Television the arrests are linked to suspicious financial activities in the North-West operation program. Its current head Pavel Markvart is being questioned by the police. In July of this year the program’s former head Petr Kusnierz was sentenced to 7 years in jail for accepting millions of crowns in bribes and manipulating EU grants. Social Democrat leader Bohuslav Sobotka said in response to the news that Pavel Kouda would be taken off the party’s list of candidates for the autumn regional elections.
Government officials, cultural figures and war veterans gathered at Prague’s Vítkov memorial on Tuesday to pay their last respects to WWII veteran general Tomas Sedláček who died last week at the age of 94. The general fought with the Allies in France, Britain and later with the Soviet army helping to liberate Czechoslovakia. After the communist take-over he was arrested convicted of anti-communist activities and jailed for life. He was released in 1960 and exonerated by the Czech Velvet Revolution in 1989. President Vaclav Klaus, who awarded him the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, described him as „a true soldier“. A private funeral ceremony for family and friends only was held in the late afternoon.
The Agricultural Workers Union is trying to drum up support for a two-hour general strike against government policy to take place on September 27th. The protest is aimed against the government’s austerity package which the union says will impact primarily lower income groups, families with children, pensioners and the disabled. Relations between the government and trade unions have been strained since trade unions walked out of a tripartite meeting in June. An attempt to resume talks is to be made on September 24th –just three days ahead of the planned protest.