Three people have died and four others are in critical condition after drinking what appears to have been illegally produced brandy. If the others pull through doctors say they may be blind. The people in question all bought the brandy from a street stall in the Moravian town of Havirov. Police confiscated several barrels of the suspect drink on Friday and are still looking for the producer. Warnings are being issued to the public not to buy cheap liquor in the street until the incident has been investigated.
The FBI is to help train Czech police officers in fighting corruption. Deputy Interior Minister Jaroslav Hruška, who is on a working visit to the United States, told the CTK news agency that the training had been agreed on and arrangements regarding time and place were in progress. Mr. Hruška said the Czech anti-corruption unit had a lot to learn from the FBI and that Prague was grateful for the offer which came from the US ambassador to the Czech Republic Norman Eisen.
The police want to file charges against the former Czech ambassador to Australia Juraj Cmiel. Investigators say they have evidence that Mr. Chmiel manipulated a public procurement deal. He reportedly waived the need for a tender on a large project by dividing it up into five smaller ones. The file on the case has been handed to the Prague 1 state attorney’s office. Mr. Chmiel could be charged with abuse of office and mismanagement of public funds.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek has warned there is not much
manoeuvring space in revising the government’s austerity package for
2013. In an interview for the daily Pravo the finance minister said that
the present agreement was hard-won and involved numerous concessions and
would be in danger of collapsing in the event of radical changes.
The bill, which is crucial to the government’s fiscal consolidation plans, was rejected by the lower house this week and has been sent back linked to a vote of confidence in the centre-right administration. It was rejected due to six deputies from the Civic Democratic Party who oppose tax hikes in principle and want the austerity measures to focus more on the expenditures side of the budget. Prime Minister Petr Nečas said this week that a revision would still be possible but that it must be agreed on by all coalition parties.
Historians have uncovered unique phonograph recordings of composer Leoš Janáček’s voice. The recordings were found in the archives of the Ethnological Institute of the Academy of Sciences. They were made in 1912 when Janáček recorded samples of two promising Slovak singers. He himself appears in the recordings giving them directions. The recordings will be digitalized. They appear to be the only preserved recordings of Janáček’s voice.
Police investigating the violent death of an 18-year-old girl in the Prachatice region in South Bohemia have arrested the girl’s mother and charged her with murder. At the family’s request no details have been released. The young girl was killed while out camping. Her body was found in a tent and police said she had suffered numerous stab wounds.
Prague’s second annual Foodparade attracted hundreds of people to the city’s Troya Park on Saturday. Fifteen leading Czech restaurants presented their specialties at the festival with chefs preparing some of the food out in the open. Visitors could taste samples of Italian and French cuisine and find out about molecular gastronomy. The two-day festival ends on Sunday with a bartenders show.
A Czech soldier serving in Afghanistan is reported to have been seriously injured in Friday’s missile attack on the Shank operating base in Logar province. The soldier, who is on the provincial reconstruction team, was airlifted to a military hospital in Kabul where he is in the care of Czech physicians. There are currently some 300 Czech soldiers and civilian experts working at the base.
The lower house has approved the government’s pension reform, overriding the Senate’s veto of the bill. The legislation, which should take effect next year, introduces a so-called “second pillar” of the pension system which will open the way for transfers of money from the state pension system to individual accounts in private insurance companies. People will also be able to transfer three percent of their social security insurance to private pension companies on the condition that they add two percent on their own. The opposition Social Democrats have criticized the second pillar for serving only a select group of rich clients. Party leader Bohuslav Sobotka has said his party would scrap the second pillar when it came to power.
Culture Minister Alena Hanáková has dismissed the head of Prague’s National Theatre Ondřej Černý. A spokesman for the ministry said Mr. Černý had received a terse notice of dismissal on Friday morning saying there had been no mention of why he was being sacked. Minister Hanakova’s deputy Martin Sankot will run the theatre until a new head is appointed. Černý’s mandate would have expired in March of 2013.