The police on Friday questioned Minister of Labour and Social Affairs Jaromír Drábek in connection with bribery charges raised against his deputy, Vladimír Šiška. Mr Šiška was arrested last week over alleged corruption related to an overpriced IT deal at the ministry. Minister Drábek, who said he would step down from his post at the end of the month because of the scandal, reiterated on Friday he believed in his deputy’s innocence.
The inspectorate of the Czech security forces found that Saturday’s controversial response by Prague municipal police to an incident at the Anděl intersection was adequate. The incident involved several municipal police officers who tackled a pair of homeless people for were drinking alcohol at a tram stop. An onlooker who thought they used excessive force intervened and the officers used a pepper spray against him before they handcuffed him and took him away. The inspectorate said they only error the officers committed was the use of pepper spray.
Czech tennis player Tomáš Berdych beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France 6:3, 7:6 in the quarterfinal of the Shanghai Masters tournament on Friday and reached the event’s semifinals. The fourth-seeded Czech had a great serve in the match and only made few errors to wrap the game in one hour and 34 minutes. Another Czech player, Radek Štepánek, was knocked out of the tournament when he lost to third seed Andy Murray of the UK 4:6, 6:2, 6:3.
The Czech Republic’s national football team beat Malta 3:1 in Plzeň on Friday, in their second World Cup qualification game. The Czechs had a good start but failed to score in the opening phase of the game, allowing the visitors to press on. But 34 minutes into the game, Limberský sent in a pass from the left which Gebre Selassie finished with a header, ending the Czech team's a 412-minute long goalless streak. Malta equlized just four minutes later but in the second half, the dominating Czechs added to more strikes, by Tomáš Pekhart in the 52th minute and Jan Rezek 15 minutes later. The Czechs are currently ranked second with four points in their World Cup 2014 qualification group.
Iraq and the Czech Republic on Thursday signed an agreement on business cooperation. It is the first such agreement between the two countries since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in 2003. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki, who is heading a government delegation to Prague, said after talks with the Czech prime minister that Iraq was still interested in the purchase of Czech L-159 fighter jets for the army. The sales transaction is to be debated at a meeting between the two countries defence ministers on Friday. The Czech Republic has moreover expressed interest in investing in Iraqi infrastructure, agriculture and the oil industry.
Commenting on the situation in Syria, Prime Minister Maliki said Iraq would never allow anyone to use its territory to supply weapons to Syria. He said his country’s borders were well guarded and Iraq was closely monitoring all flights across its territory. The prime minister said Iraq had already banned a certain country’s flight across Iraq, without specifying the country concerned. The US and some other states suspect Iran of supporting the Damascus regime by supplying weapons to it, using both air and ground routes via Iraq.
A state attorney has said the interior minister did not break the law in sacking the former police president Petr Lessy. Although the police president cannot by rights be recalled from office unless he or she commits a crime Interior Minister Jan Kubice sacked Mr. Lessy shortly after bringing accusations of abuse of office and libel against him. Mr. Lessy’s lawyer Vaclav Laska said he intended to lodge another more extensive criminal complaint against the interior minister on his client’s behalf.
On an official visit to Poland on Thursday President Klaus met with his Polish counterpart Bronislaw Komorowski, to discuss bilateral ties, European and global issues. In the evening the Czech head of state will attend a dinner given in his honour and meet with the speakers of both chambers of Parliament. During the talks President Klaus praised the quality of bilateral relations saying the two neighbouring states were close in many ways and had developed close business and trade relations. Poland is the Czech Republic’s 3rd biggest export destination with 7.3 billion euros worth of goods being exported to the country last year. Polish imports to the Czech Republic amounted to 7.1 billion euros.
Another patient has been admitted to hospital with methanol poisoning. Doctors say his condition is serious. It is not clear where he got the contaminated liquor. There are estimates that isolated cases of poisonings can appear up to 6 months after the crisis and people have been warned not to drink uncertified spirits they have at home. Meanwhile the police have arrested another salesperson who had contaminated bootleg liquor in his possession bringing the number of people charged to 26.
Health Minister Leos Heger has called on the public for more people in high-risk groups to get a seasonal vaccine against the flu. At present only about 5 percent of the population get a flu shot which is a significantly lower number than in neighbouring countries. Annually 1500 to 2000 people die of flu-related complications, most of them are elderly or chronically ill patients. Minister Heger said that if 15 percent of the population got vaccinated it would not only lower the death toll but save millions of crowns in treatment.