A Prague district court acquitted Martin Knetig, one-time advisor to the former Czech environment minister Pavel Drobil, of corruption charges on Tuesday. The state attorney appealed the verdict on the spot. Mr Knetig was accused of corruption after allegedly demanding a bribe from a bank officer in connection with depositing the State Environmental Fund’s money into a number of unspecified banks in 2010. Allegedly, Mr Knetig sought to collect money for the Civic Democratic Party. Pavel Drobil resigned as Environment Minister in December 2010 in relation to the same scandal.
Petr Lessy was relieved of his duties as the president of the Czech Police
on Wednesday morning. Interior Minister Jan Kubice dismissed Mr Lessy from
the police force with immediate effect following the filing of criminal
charges against him. The General Inspectorate of Security Forces accused
the now former police chief of libel and abuse of public office. At a
conference later in the day, Mr Kubice cited a law that says a police
officer can be dismissed if he is accused of contemptible or possible
criminal behaviour which could threaten the good reputation of the
forces. Mr Lessy told the E15 news server that he considers the
to be nonsensical and is ready to defend himself. Mr Lessy will be
by his former deputy Martin Červíček, the government announced.
The slander charge is connected to statements Mr Lessy made more than half a year ago about the head of the Zlín regional police force Bedřich Koutný and his deputy Jaroslav Vaňek in relation to the so-called Tofl gang case. Interior Minister Jan Kubice has called on Mr Lessy to resign a number of times in the past. Chairman of the opposition Sovial Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, fiercely criticized the move, saying the dismissal is an attempt of the Civic Democrats and the TOP 09 party to curtail the independence of the police force.
City officials in Ostrava has requested a district court to rule on the ownership rights of the defunct sewer in the Přednádraží district, where a slum is located. The Přednádraží slum, that has been occupied primarily by Romani tenants, has been at the center of month-long controversy. City officials have been trying to get residents to leave the slum buildings that have fallen into disrepair and have been deemed uninhabitable. The buildings’ owner, who has been issued with a fine, claimed he is willing to carry out necessary repairs as long as the city fixes the sewage system, which does not belong to him. City officials have claim that this particular section of the sewage does not belong to the city either. Approximately 100 people remain in some of the buildings without running water or other amenities for almost a month.
Czech President Václav Klaus has expressed great concern over the dismissal of Police President Petr Lessy on Wednesday. Apparently, the president was not made aware of this crucial move, and the quick naming of Mr Lessy’s deputy Martin Červíček as replacement. President Klaus said in a statement that the interior minister’s decision “will destabilize not only the police force, but the whole of the Czech political sphere as well.” According to Interior Minister Jan Kubice, the Prime Minister Petr Nečas was also not informed of this move beforehand.
The executive board of the Czech Civic Democrats have called on Prime Minister Petr Nečas and party members to side strongly against the Czech Republic joining the planned European banking union. Many members of the Civic Democratic Party are warning that a Europe-wide banking union would be a step towards further EU integration and possible changes in European treaties. The European Commission is expected to submit a proposal of the banking union in the first two weeks of September. The union could potentially be one of the bigger issues debated ahead of regional and Senate elections to be held in the Czech Republic in the autumn.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has expressed concern over
recent developments in Russia, including what he called a tightening of
conditions and the restraint of expression by civic groups. Taking part in
a meeting of diplomats at Prague’s Černín Palace on Tuesday, the
foreign minister suggested in some ways it was as if the country was
heading back to the time of the Tsars. At the same time, the foreign
minister stressed that Prague had an eminent interest in strong ties with
Moscow; he called Russia a key power and partner.
The foreign minister on Tuesday also reflected on the recent sentencing of members of the Russian punk group Pussy Riot to two years in prison. Mr Schwarzenberg has consistently supported the trio and on Tuesday he compared their performance in Moscow, which landed them jail time, to social happenings in Europe 40 years ago that led to greater emancipation.
Czech tennis player Petra Kvitová has made it past the first round at the final grand slam event of the season, the US Open. She defeated Slovenian opponent Polona Hercog, 65th in the WTA rankings. The first set came down to a tie-break which Kvitová won, and the Czech fully dominated the second. The final score was 7:6 (6), 6:1.
The construction of a new elephant and hippo pavilion at Prague Zoo will cost more than originally expected: 519 million crowns instead of the original 431 originally agreed with the Skanska, the company in charge. The rise in the cost is tied to unforeseen construction costs as well as project-related analysis, Czech Radio’s Regina said.
Police have blocked an estimated 15 million crowns belonging to MP and former Central Bohemian governor David Rath and his wife, according to sources including Czech news website idnes. The funds were deposited in the safekeeping of Mr Rath’s lawyer Adam Černý. Mr Rath is being held in custody on corruption charges; he was caught by police with an alleged seven million crown bribe on his person in May. His lawyer Adam Černý refused to confirm the exact amount but called steps taken by the police “intimidation” and “chicanery”; he added it was likely he would put forward a complaint after discussing the matter with his client. He will have three days to do so. The lower house is to meet at the beginning of September to decide whether or not to strip Mr Rath of immunity so he can face additional charges.
The number of gun owners in the Czech Republic is rising, statistics by the police as well as the Czech Proof House for Arms and Ammunition have revealed. In the first half of 2012, holders of gun licences in the country bought the same amount of pistols and rifles as during the whole of last year. According to the police, there is now one gun for every 14th person in the country. In other words, there is currently a total of some 700,000 legally-held guns.
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