The police’s anti-corruption unit have proposed that 12 people be charged in connection with suspicious contracts won by the company Promopro during the Czech presidency of the European Union in 2009. Detectives say the firm overcharged the Office of the Government by almost CZK 400 million for audiovisual services. Among those accused are three former state officials, including the then deputy to Alexandr Vondra, who was deputy prime minister for European affairs when the alleged offences took place. The three face charges of abuse of office and breach of trust, while police say the other accused are guilty of money laundering and fraud.
The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, appointed three new Constitutional Court judges on Friday. Following Senate approval of their nominations last week, academics Jaroslav Fenyk and Jan Filip have joined the country’s highest court, as has judge Milada Tomková. The Senate also gave its backing to the nomination of Vladimír Sládeček; he will be appointed next month when the term of one of the current justices comes to an end. All in all, seven of the 15 members of the Constitutional Court are stepping down this year.
The acting head of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes says she is considering suing her predecessor for alleged financial mismanagement. Pavla Foglová told journalists on Friday that former director Daniel Herman had paid bonuses in January that the institution did not possess and had raised the salaries of dozens of senior employees shortly before his removal last month. Mr. Herman says his sacking by the Institute’s left-controlled board was a political move. The state agency administers the files of the StB secret police and other documents from the communist era.
Czechs now have a more positive attitude towards the work of the European Union than they did a year ago, suggests a freshly released opinion poll by the STEM agency. Forty-five percent of respondents in the survey, which was conducted last month, said they believed that EU functioned democratically, seven percent more than in a similar poll last year. Meanwhile, 30 percent – compared to 25 percent in 2012 – said they thought the bloc worked effectively.
A couple have received eight-year jail terms for the grave mistreatment of a sick woman who subsequently died. Zdeněk and Alena Hostaš, from a small town near Olomouc, were looking after the woman, the man’s mother, and lived off her disability benefit money. However, they kept the 62-year-old woman, who had suffered a stroke, in appalling conditions in an unheated room without adequate food, drink or medicines. She died a few weeks after being taken into hospital early this year.
The pro-cycling civic association Auto*Mat has launched a competition aimed at encouraging more people in the Czech Republic to ride to work. Around 3,500 people in 11 cities and towns around the country have signed up for the contest “To Work By Bike”, which runs throughout May and is being held for the third time. Entrants sign up online and collect points for cycling to their job with colleagues in teams ranging from two to five members.
A collection of interviews with the great Czech actor and writer Jan Werich is set for release later this month, a spokesperson for the label Supraphon said on Friday. The interviews were conducted by his daughter Jana in 1969, when Werich was in his mid 60s, and broadcast in a weekly series on Czechoslovak Radio entitled Táto, povídej! (Talk, Dad!). His colourful stories, which also take in a period he spent living in the United States in the early 1940s, will come out in an eight-CD box set.
The Czech Republic beat Belarus 2:0 in their opening game at the World Ice Hockey Championship in Stockholm on Friday with the goals coming from Jakub Voráček and Radim Vrbata. The result means the Czechs – who were last crowned world champions three years ago – have maintained their record of never having lost their opening in the tournament. Alois Hadamczik’s charges will face stiffer competition on Saturday, when they face hosts Sweden.
The Czech soccer star Petr Čech says he believes his club Chelsea will win the Europa League, after on Thursday reaching the final with a win over Basel. In a post on his website, Čech says he and his teammates are motivated by the chance of becoming the first team to win the competition a year after taking the Champions League trophy, adding that Chelsea had given the lie to those who doubted they would take Europe’s second-tier club competition seriously. The goalkeeper has won virtually every trophy possible in nine years at the English club.
A group of Czech and Slovak tourists are reported to have caused a security alert at London’s Heathrow Airport on Thursday after customs detected an object resembling a detonator in one of their suitcases. According to the internet news site TVNOVINY.SK the group of seven Slovaks and two Czechs was surrounded by an anti-terrorist squad and questioned for close to seven hours. The Slovak in whose possession the suspicious object was found says he had no idea how it got there and claimed it may have been planted in his luggage while he slept. It is not clear how the object escaped the notice of customs officials at Vienna Airport. Seven members of the group have reportedly been released, the Slovak who caused the alarm and his wife remain in detention. The two Czechs who were bound for the United States reportedly returned to Bratislava after the US authorities refused them entry into the United States.