The lower house of Parliament has voted to give up MP David Rath for criminal prosecution in another case of suspected corruption. This case relates to manipulated tenders and dubious purchases at a number of central Bohemian hospitals. The motion was supported by 174 out of 185 deputies present. The former central Bohemian governor who is in custody facing corruption charges in connection with an alleged seven million crown bribe asked to be given up saying he wanted to clear his name in court. He has accused the centre-right government of organizing a well-orchestrated smear campaign ahead of the autumn elections.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg is expected to undertake a working visit to the United States later this month, a Czech Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Friday. Mr. Schwarzenberg is expected to travel to the United States on September 20th and a meeting with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been scheduled for the next day. The Czech foreign minister will later travel to New York to attend a session of the UN General Assembly.
The mayor of Ostrava, one of the most polluted cities in the country, has called on the EU’s environment commissioner for help in resolving the situation. Mayor Petr Kaynar says the town is prepared to invest in a long-term strategy to improve the environment, particularly the quality of air, but would like the problem to be addressed on a broader scale. The mayor says that according to several independent studies most of the air pollution plaguing the town originates in neighbouring Poland. Health statistics show that the air pollution in the eastern part of the country, particularly Ostrava, has resulted in a growing incidence of asthma and allergy problems.
The Prague High Court on Friday upheld a three-year prison sentence for businessman Tomas Pitr for tax evasion and an illegal transfer of shares. Pitr appealed the length of the sentence despite the fact that he will only have to serve 12 months, having already spent two years in custody. Pitr was found guilty in 2010 of having damaged the Agrocredit company, robbing them of shares worth 700 million crowns.
Two people have died of alcohol poisoning and three others remain in serious condition after consuming cheap brandy bought from a street stall in the Moravian town of Havirov. Police have confiscated several barrels of the suspect drink which was sold on tap and are questioning the salesman. Warnings are being issued to the public not to buy cheap liquor in the street until the incident has been investigated.
The London Booster, a 1957 red double-decker bus fitted with giant hydraulic arms, which attracted crowds doing push-ups in front of the Czech Olympic House in Islington has arrived on Prague’s Old Town Square. The work of Czech artist David Cerny is to be part of a weekend happening celebrating the country’s Olympic achievements. After that it will be dismantled and reassembled on the premises of Agrofert Holding the firm which bought the Olympic artefact. The public will be able to view it again on the firm’s premises in late October.
The Pirate party, right-of-centre TOP 09 and the extremist Workers´ Party of Social Justice would win the Czech regional elections if it were up to secondary school students. Nearly 22,000 students from 170 secondary schools across the country took part in the mock elections, organised by the NGO People in Need. In the student vote, the Pirate party won 20 percent, TOP 09 received 15 percent, and the extremist Workers´ Party of Social Justice received 10 percent. Analysts say the vote reflects a strong anti-establishment sentiment.
The government has again approved a stabilisation package rejected by the
Chamber of Deputies on Wednesday, where several rebel MPs were
in its blocking. The coalition government needed 101 votes but six Civic
Democrats– opposed to the idea of further raising the two-tier VAT rate
– voted against. The bill is being pushed to help lower the deficit. The
centre-right government led by Prime Minister Petr Nečas is staking its
future on the bill by tying it to a vote of confidence.
The prime minister suggested on Thursday that the next few weeks would reveal rebel MPs’ ‘true intentions’, that is, whether they were purposely trying to damage the government or individual politicians, or were honestly concerned about programme issues.
In related news, lawmaker Petr Tluchoř has revealed that he and other MPs opposed to the government’s tax package will take part in talks next week after the session in the Chamber of Deputies. The MP stressed in a statement for the Czech news agency that he would not outline specific demands prior to sitting down with the prime minister. He revealed that the six deputies, however, were ready to support the package in a first reading when the government submitted it again and that they would support the shortening of deadlines in the legislative procedure. In the final reading of the bill, Mr Tluchoř said, he and the others would only vote for it if changes had been made.
The Chamber of Deputies has approved an amendment aiming to reduce overcrowding in prisons. The bill, rejected earlier by the Senate, emphasises alternative sentences such as home detention or parole. Under the bill, the minimal period to be eligible for parole would be shortened – a key factor senators rejected. The bill passed in the lower house on Thursday with 102 votes. The justice minister, Pavel Blažek, has called the amendment “essential”. According to available data, the country’s jails in August held 23,200 inmates – 2,500 over the limit. Some jails are overcrowded by as much as 30 percent.