The Constitutional Court on Thursday scrapped a lottery law provision enabling video lottery terminal sites with a licence from the Finance Ministry to operate until the end of 2014. The court complied with a Czech town´s complaint that the provision thwarted the effective regulation of gambling by towns. The Finance Ministry will now likely have to withdraw all licences that run counter to town hall directives. The verdict may apply to as many as tens of thousands of lottery terminals, the Czech news agency reported. A day earlier, operators said they feared intervention by the court would increase illegal gambling as well as trigger a series of court disputes.
Several members of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes’ academic council announced their resignation on Thursday following the sacking of the institute’s head Daniel Herman a day earlier. Mr Herman was dismissed from his post by a six-member supervisory board. Critics blamed politics as playing a key role given the presence of new board members elected by the opposition Social Democrats. Members of the academic council who stepped down in protest include its chairman, Professor Michael Kraus. Cardinal Miloslav Vlk also resigned.
Prague Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda on Thursday took aim at police charges of breach of trust against 10 councillors – including himself – at City Hall. Interviewed by Czech Radio, the mayor said the charges were a political attack meant to discredit the council ahead of upcoming municipal elections. The 10 officials are charged in connection with a controversial smart card system in Prague: the card is used as a travel pass and for other services. The councillors have filed a legal complaint against the state prosecutor overseeing the case.
Former Czech head-of-state Václav Klaus and his successor President Miloš Zeman are among dignitaries who signed a book of condolence at the British Embassy on Wednesday in memory of the late Margaret Thatcher who died this week at the age of 87. Others who signed included the head of the Senate Milan Štěch and Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka. Mrs. Thatcher – one of the most prominent politicians of the 20th century - was British prime minister for 11 years.
The government could save up to 870 million crowns annually on the maintenance and rent at state bureaux and institutions, the prime minister said on Thursday, if spending limits – relative to performance – are introduced. Taken into consideration would be factors such as office size, budget expenses for IT, as well as telephone costs. The recommendation for spending ceilings to be introduced based on KPI (key performance indicator) was put forward by the government’s economic advisory council NERV.
The regional court in Ostrava has issued a new international arrest warrant for former MP turned fugitive Petr Wolf. An earlier warrant for his arrest was limited to Europe and not the rest of the world. The former politician, found guilty of financial fraud, has been on the run since late last year. He is supposed to be serving a six-year prison sentence.
Ivana Zemanová, the wife of President Miloš Zeman, will focus on charity work as First Lady, her personal secretary Jana Bartošová has said. On Wednesday, Mrs Zemanová met with the head of the Fund for Children in Need, Marie Vodičková. The two discussed possible projects to help children from socially-weaker backgrounds, including a charity the First Lady is aiming to set up. The Fund for Children in Need focuses on children who suffered abuse, were abandoned by their families or are otherwise threatened. Its aim is to provide them with alternative care when they cannot remain with their natural parents.
A nine-year-old who failed to return home after school this week was found unhurt on Wednesday. The girl was found near her village of Vlčnov in the area of Uherské hradiště, the Czech news agency reported, sighted by a local as well as a police helicopter. The police confirmed that she had not been hurt by anyone but had been afraid to return home after receiving a poor grade in school; she reportedly spent the night in the forest. The little girl has failed to return home before, a year ago disappearing for several hours after she received a note for her parents from her teacher.
The regional court in Brno has declared a farm, hotel and wellness complex in Olšany belonging to well-known Czech comedian Bolek Polívka, bankrupt. The bankruptcy administrator has registered 55 related claims by creditors, owed a total of 56.3 million crowns. Mr. Polívka himself is one - owed nine million crowns of his own money he put into the project. The court issued its ruling ahead of a meeting of creditors later this week. The farm and hotel fell into financial difficulty after renovation costs ballooned past original estimates. The farm, which employed 21 people, had been losing money since last March. The mayor of Olšany has expressed hope that the farm will continue, saying it was an important cultural venue that had also provided jobs.
Residents of Prague’s Vršovice district were set to meet on Thursday to discuss the future of an area between Krymská a Moskevská streets, sold by the local town hall to private developers aiming to build private homes as well as offices. Critics slammed the sale and as leading to the disappearance of another green spot in the area.