The organized crime unit of the Czech police has charged six people with corruption, including four members of the judiciary, Prague’s supreme attorney Lenka Bradáčová said on Saturday. Among those facing the charges of bribery, fraud, blackmail, and abuse of authority, is a judge of a Prague district court, a state prosecutor, an attorney and a junior attorney who are suspected of colluding to influence court verdicts, Ms Bradáčová said. Five of the accused have be released, one remains in police custody.
A communist member of South Bohemia’s regional council, Václav Kučera, will step down next week, the daily Právo reported on Saturday. Mr Kučera found himself under public pressure to resign over his collaboration with communist-era military intelligence, part of the notorious StB secret police. The Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia won seats on several Czech regional governments in last year’s elections which provoked a series of protests, particularly in the South Bohemian and Karlovy Vary regions.
Heavy snow and icy roads have disrupted traffic across the Czech Republic. Some 15 cm of fresh snow fell in most parts of the country since Friday night, covering most minor roads as well as some sections of motorways. Hundreds of road accidents have occurred, blocking some of the major Czech motorways. Two outbound flights from Prague‘s Václav Havel Airport have been cancelled, dozens of others are delayed. The authorities in the district of Šternberk have declared a state of calamity, with a number of roads in the area closed for traffic. The authorities have asked drivers to take extra caution and keep off the roads if they can as more snow is expected over the weekend.
The top Czech football division has resumed after a three-month winter break. The first round of the spring part of the competition saw two ties on Friday, with Teplice drawing 1:1 against Dukla Prague, and Jihlava tied 0:0 with Hradec Králové. The Gambrinus liga’s 17th round continues with more games over the weekend; Baník Ostrava drew 0:0 against České Budějovice on Saturday, with Milan Baroš’s first appearance for the home side after 11 seasons abroad. League leaders Plzeň take on Brno on Sunday while Sparta Prague, in second place, host Slovácko. Jablonec, ranked third in the table, play Liberec on Saturday.
Using a DNA analysis, the police have identified a sixth victim of last weekend’s blast in an apartment block in the north Moravian town of Frenštát pod Radhoštěm, a spokeswoman said. The explosion killed three children, two women and a man; another 11 people suffered injuries. The police believe the only man who died in the explosion, a 57-year-old tenant of one of the apartments, deliberately set if off by opening a gas valve in the basement of the building. Further tests to determine what happened should be finished in several weeks’ time.
Former members of the Czech national hockey team which won the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998 met in Prague on Saturday, 15 years after their triumph. All but five players have arrived for the occasion; Jaromír Jágr, Milan Hejduk and Roman Hamrlík play in the NHL, Jiří Dopita plays in a lower Czech division, and Petr Svoboda, who scored the winning goal in the Olympic final against Russia, could not come from the US for work reasons. The team’s coach, Ivan Hlinka, died in a car crash in 2004. The team will launch an exhibit of photos and memorabilia from the Olympic tournament at Prague’s Veletržní palác.
The head of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, would like to meet with the Czech president-elect, Miloš Zeman, “as soon as possible, EU commissioner for enlargement, Štefan Fülle said following a meeting with Mr Zeman in Prague on Friday. Miloš Zeman invited Mr Barroso to Prague shortly after his victory in the first ever direct presidential election last month. The president-elect said both officials could fly the EU flag over Prague Castle, a gesture the outgoing president, Václav Klaus, consistently rejected.
In related news, the Baptist Union in the Czech Republic rejected an agreement with the government on financial compensation, the group’s head, Milan Kern, said on Friday. The church was set to receive some 228 million crowns under the deal; however, Mr Kern said they would rather fund their church with contributions from members. The Baptists are the only church which took part in the property restitution negotiations that eventually refused to sign the agreement. The group has around 2,500 members.
Viktoria Plzeň have advanced in football’s Europa League after a 2:0 home win over Napoli which gave them a remarkable 5:0 aggregate victory over the Italian side. The goals in Thursday’s second leg came from Kovařík and Tecl. Sparta Prague, meanwhile, have exited the competition. Trailing 0:1 from the first leg in Prague, they gave Chelsea a scare when a goal from David Lafata put them ahead for a long period of the game; however, an equalizer in time added on killed the Czechs’ hopes of forcing the tie to extra time.
Around one third of homeless people living in the Czech Republic seek assistance, according to a new survey by the Czech Statistical Office and social services providers which was released on Friday. About the same number of them also have jobs. The survey counted 11.500 homeless people; however, the real number of people living in the streets could be three times higher. The highest number of the homeless – 2,600 – was registered in the northern Moravian-Silesian region, followed by Prague and South Moravia.
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