The inspection team for the Prague City Police force is investigating the suspicious purchase of silver bars last year for 512,000 crowns. The force bought 40 small bars in order to recognise officers for outstanding service. Investigators are now going over details of the purchase, gauging the weight and quality of the silver against the purchasing price; they have also requested additional documentation. The head of the police admitted that based on the investigation so far, wrongdoing could not fully be ruled out. The silver was bought during a period when the force was led by deputy head Ludvík Klema, after former police chief, Vladimír Kotrouš, was remanded in custody on corruption charges.
President Miloš Zeman on Friday met for the second time at Prague Castle with the head of the trade union’s umbrella organisation ČMKOS, Jaroslav Zavadil. During the meeting, issues discussed included the boosting of the economy, with Mr Zeman outlining he would sit in on a future tripartite session of the government, trade unions and business representatives. As president, Mr Zeman has promised to take a more hands-on approach than his predecessor; the next tripartite meeting is on April 25 and is scheduled to tackle issues of economic growth and the minimum wage; but the president is only expected to make the session after that, held in late June.
Two fire fighters suffered light injuries handling a blaze at an uninhabited railway building in Prague’s Bartošková Street. One had to be treated for heat stress. Damages to the site have been estimated at around 100,000 crowns. The cause of the fire remains unknown, but a spokesman suggested that homeless inhabitants or drug-users may have been responsible.
A 25-year-old pedestrian crossing at an unlit section of road near Hradec Králové was struck and killed on Friday night by an oncoming ambulance. The ambulance driver swerved at the last second but was unable to avoid the collision; the vehicle continued another 20 metres before coming to a stop. The ambulance did not have warning lights on but was not transporting any other passengers.
Hockey club Zlín has forced a deciding seventh game in the Extraliga playoff finals, defeating rivals for the championship title Plzeň on Friday. Zlín turned the match around early in the second period with two goals in quick succession. The club went on to win by a score of 5:2. The final game takes places on Sunday evening.
The anti-corruption police have filed charges against former health minister Tomáš Julínek, according to press reports on Friday. The former Civic Democrat minister has been charged with abuse of office and breach of trust for allowing two private companies to take over the operation of air ambulances in 2008. The move has so far cost the state around 800 million crowns, which is the difference between the private operators’ expenses and those of the ministries of interior and defence, which previously provided the service. Mr Julínek, who could face up to 10 years in jail if found guilty, will not be taken into custody for the duration of the investigation.
The Education Ministry has prepared a draft amendment that significantly alters the system of school financing in a way that would better support currently disadvantaged schools and students. According to the amendment, that is yet to be debated by both houses of parliament, all regions should receive the same amount of money per student, depending on the given type of school. The proposal also envisages simplifying the procedures for disadvantaged children receiving government support. The ministry hopes to improve job security for school principals and teachers and wants to introduce the possibility of homeschooling in the upper level of primary schools.
Prime Minister Petr Nečas is on a one-day working visit to Finland. He is scheduled to meet with his Finnish counterpart Jyrki Katainen and will be received by President Sauli Niinisto. On Friday morning the Czech prime minister addressed the Czech-Finnish Business Forum at a meeting of the European Democratic Union, an alliance of European conservative parties. Finland is an important trading partner for the export-dependent Czech economy, with a stable interest in Czech engineering products and Škoda cars. The Czech side is hoping to raise its traditional export commodities and is seeking new business opportunities in the fields of infrastructure and power production.
President Miloš Zeman met with former finance minister Jiří Rusnok on Friday to discuss the setting up of a special fund, where the president is planning to deposit 30% of his monthly salary as a symbolic contribution towards repaying the Czech national debt, which last year amounted to almost 1,700 billion crowns. In addition to donating a portion of his own monthly salary, which totals over 300,000 crowns, President Zeman is planning to encourage other potential donors to follow his example.
The police closed down part of the busy Národní street in the center of Prague on Friday morning, because of a suspicious black suitcase, which was discovered during a regular patrol of the area. While explosives experts were retrieving the object, a part of the street was cordoned off and police were re-routing traffic. The police bomb disposal unit transported the suitcase to a safe location for investigation, after which the street was reopened.