An amnesty declared by President Václav Klaus on New Year’s Day will affect an estimated 7,416 people, or some 25 percent of all prisoners, Justice Minister Pavel Blažek said on Wednesday. That’s some 800 people more than the ministry’s previous estimate. Under the amnesty, people sentenced to up to one year have been pardoned as have those older than 75 who are serving sentences of up to 10 years. The amnesty also halts the prosecution of cases which began more than eight years ago for crimes carrying sentences of up to 10 years.
In related news, the amnesty declared by President Václav Klaus will end the prosecution in 13 major cases of alleged economic crime, Chief Prague Prosecutor Lenka Bradáčová told the news website novinky.cz on Wednesday. These include the cases of corrupt judge Jiří Berka, former managers of Komerční banka, the Trend privatization fund, the case of the overpriced reconstruction of the Czech House in Moscow, as well as the case of alleged multi-billion fuel tax evasion by two Czech companies. The prosecution in all of them began earlier than eight years ago but no charges have yet been raised, which means they are covered by the amnesty.
Meanwhile, Czech authorities are preparing for the release of prisoners pardoned under the amnesty declared by President Václav Klaus which comes into effect on Wednesday. Courts are reportedly ready to work around the clock inside prisons to process the relevant cases. Each of the 24 Czech prisons is able to release dozens of prisoners a day, a deputy justice minister said. The police said they had reinforced patrols in regions where the prisons are located. For their part, the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs issued directives for labour offices on how to proceed should released prisoners approach them for assistance. Labour offices were told to get sufficient funds in cash to be able to provide extraordinary financial support.
The Czech Constitutional Court has received six complaints related to the country’s first direct presidential election, the court’s secretary said on Wednesday. The latest complaint was filed on December 31 by a woman whom the Interior Ministry refused to register as candidate for the vote. The court will also have to deal with a complaint by Senator Tomio Okamura who was barred from the race on the grounds of having failed to collect 50,000 signatures in support of his bid, a claim rejected by the senator. The court is set to discuss its course of action on Friday. The complaints could lead to the cancellation or postponement of the election, the first round of which is scheduled for January 11 and 12.
Senior Czech diplomat Petr Kolář has been hired by the international
financial group PPF, the company said in a statement on Wednesday. Mr
Kolář served in the past as the Czech ambassador to the US and most
recently to Russia, and briefly also as an advisor to President Václav
Havel. He has been appointed to the newly created position of foreign
affairs director at the PPF group, and will mainly focus on the firm’s
activities in Asia.
The Dutch-based PPF group, whose majority stake is owned by Czech businessman Petr Kellner, operates in the areas of consumer financing, retail banking and insurance in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Russia and other countries mainly in central and south-east Asia.
Czech film historian Karel Čáslavský died on Wednesday at the age of 75, public broadcaster Czech Television said. Mr Čáslavský worked at the National Film Archive since 1963 and became a popular TV personality. He created several shows and co-wrote two volumes of biographies of Czech films actors. For 20 years, he hosted a programme on Czech TV entitled In Search of Lost Time in which he presented archive film footage.
The number of both corporate and personal bankruptcies declared in 2012 rose by 46 percent compared to the previous year, according to figures by the company CCB. Nearly 3,700 firms went bankrupt last year; most of them were self-employed people registered as entrepreneurs. Some 60 percent of bankrupt firms were active in the services, trade and restaurant sectors. Meanwhile, nearly 17,000 personal bankruptcies were declared in 2012 which was the highest number since their introduction into Czech law in 2008.
Czech taxes on fuel are the highest among all other eastern European member states, according to a report by the consultancy firm European Energy Portal. In VAT and consumption tax, the Czech authorities levy 0.689 euro per liter of diesel which represents 48 percent of the total price. They collect 0.758 euro per liter of petrol, or 54 percent of its end price. An association of Czech entrepreneurs and transporters last year complained about the relatively high fuel taxes, and called on the government to lower them.
The Czech national hockey team lost 0:7 to the United States in the quarterfinals of the under 20 world championships in Russia on Wednesday, meaning they cannot now a medal at the event. The Czechs conceded five goals while playing short-handed, and lost the second period 5:0. The Czechs will play either Russia or Switzerland for fifth place on Friday.