Businesswoman Ivana Salačová, involved in a wider corruption case that brought down former regional Social Democrat governor David Rath, has provided key testimony in the hopes of receiving a more lenient sentence, Czech daily Lidové noviny reports. As a witness, Mrs Salačova has reportedly revealed how suspects operated to mask large bribes. In May of this year, former governor Rath was caught red-handed with seven million crowns in cash on his person. Ten others face prosecution in the case. Rath, formerly one of his party’s most prominent figures, is behind bars awaiting trial.
In related news, a driver was killed and his fellow passenger was
seriously injured on Saturday on the road from Litvínov to Most. The
driver apparently lost control of his vehicle on an icy patch and crashed
into an electrical column for trolleybuses. He died at the scene.
In another accident, the father in a family of four was killed shortly 8 am after their car hit a tree in the area of Jindřichův Hradec. His wife and children suffered injuries and were taken to hospital for care.
City councilors are weighing the possibility of renaming a Prague bridge or part of an embankment street after late President Václav Havel, Mlada fronta Dnes reports. According to the daily, part of Rašínovo nábřeži near where Mr Havel once had an apartment could be renamed in his honour. Councilor Lukáš Manhart told the paper the renaming was a possibility but provided few details. At least one other city councilor expressed support for the idea. Earlier this year Prague’s Ruzyně international airport was renamed after the late president.
Icy conditions which intensified in areas around the country this week complicated the situation for countless motorists and pedestrians in the early hours of Saturday. According to the Czech news agency, ČTK, emergency services had registered 80 falls on icy Prague sidewalks alone by 1 pm on Saturday. Traffic accidents also increased, with some reporting that the municipal police were having trouble processing cases quickly due to the high number. Although temperatures have risen somewhat, motorists have been asked to exercise extreme caution due to the difficult conditions.
Petr Hájek, the controversial vice chancellor to current president Václav Klaus, has issued harsh criticism of the late Václav Havel, the playwright and former dissident and president, who died a year ago on December 18. In a TV interview, Mr Hájek indirectly compared the late president to fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, suggesting that Mr Havel’s politics had been undemocratic and had favored a non-elected elite. In a recently-published book Mr Hájek slammed Václav Havel as having been “in the service of Satan”. The vice chancellor is no stranger to controversy: in the past he has questioned, for example, who was behind the 9/11 attacks. German daily Die Welt this week dubbed the vice chancellor “court jester” to outgoing president Václav Klaus.
The captain of Viktoria Plzeň, Pavel Horvath, has been named in the team of the group stage of the Europa League. The midfielder, who is 37, is the oldest player to score in European soccer’s second-tier competition. The former Czech international finds himself alongside the likes of Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Napoli striker Edinson Cavani in the all-star 11.
A paltry 6 percent of Czechs think their country is “going in the right direction”, suggests a poll published on Friday by the STEM agency. Fifty-seven percent of respondents in the survey said they felt the Czech Republic was going in the wrong direction, while 37 percent said it was not going in any direction. Two years ago a poll indicated that a third of the population thought the country was going in the right direction; the authors of the latest survey said the increased negative outlook was down to people’s strong disillusionment with conflicts in the government, corruption cases and fears of recession.
The freshly installed minister of defence, Karolína Peake, says Prime Minister Petr Nečas reacted angrily to her dismissal of a number of senior Defence Ministry officials. Minister Peake told Czech Television that Mr. Nečas, who was in Brussels, had raised his voice during a phone conversation on Thursday. For his part, Mr. Nečas said she had no place making public their conversation. Among those the minister removed on her first full day in office was her first deputy, General Vlastimil Picek, a former chief of staff of the Czech Army. She said she believed top positions at the ministry should be filled by civilians. On Friday the opposition Social Democrats called for her resignation in a lower house debate.
A fifth of Czechs drank spirits during a two-week ban on the sale of hard alcohol in September, according to a survey conducted by the National Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction and a polling agency. Less than a third of regular drinkers of spirits refrained from consuming them during the ban, which was imposed following a wave of deaths caused by counterfeit liquors containing poisonous methanol. To date 38 people have died from drinking such bootleg spirits.
The speaker of the Czech lower house, Miroslava Němcová, has proposed what is known as a state of legislative emergency, in a bid to push through certain pieces of legislation by the end of the year. If approved by the relevant committees, the mechanism will allow one bill on judges’ salaries and another on the sKarta social welfare payment system to be passed in a single reading. It was last employed two years ago to push through a raft of cost-cutting measures.
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