Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman on Friday halted the prosecution of three former MPs charged with bribe taking. The three former Civic Democrat deputies were accused of having agreed to quit their seats in the lower house in return for posts in state-run firms. Last month, they were taken into custody in a police operation that led to the fall of the government. But last week, the Supreme Court ruled their alleged offences were covered by their parliamentary immunity. The case now returns to prosecutors who should decide on further action. The prosecution of the ex-prime minister Nečas’s chief of staff, and of another former official, charged in the same case, can go ahead after minor modifications, according the Supreme State Attorney.
The head of the Czech antitrust office Petr Rafaj has rejected an appeal lodged by the French company Areva against its exclusion from a multi-billion crown tender on the completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant in south Bohemia. The decision confirms an earlier verdict made by the antitrust office. The Czech power utility ČEZ, which operates the plant, excluded Areva from the tender in October of last year, on the grounds that the submitted bid contained serious errors. Areva has filed several unsuccessful appeals against its exclusion. The bidders that remain in the running are the Czech-Russian consortium Mir 1200 and the US-Japanese company Westinghouse. ČEZ, which was expected to announce the winner of the tender in the autumn of this year, has said it would postpone the decision by at least a year.
The Czech government has extended the so-called solar tax, introduced in 2010 to balance high buying price of photovoltaic electricity. The 26-percent tax was to end at the end of the year; however, the government decided to extend it for years to come, lowering it to 10 percent. The decision has drawn criticism from owners of photovoltaic plants who say a series of government measures aimed at driving down the costs of solar electricity has greatly diminished the profitability of the industry.
Russian billionaire Vladimir Yevtushenkov is eying the Czech division of Telefónica, the biggest telecommunications firm on the Czech market. In an interview for the Bloomberg news agency, Mr Yevtushenkov said Telefónica Czech Republic was on his list of potential acquisitions in the telecommunications industry. The indebted Telefonica has been considering selling its Czech division for months; Czech tycoon Andrej Babiš has also expressed interest in buying Telefonica’s Czech branch.
The police have charged two people over the publication of a book of Adolf Hitler’s speeches, a police spokeswoman said on Friday. The accused, one of whom is the book’s publisher, face charges of genocide denial. The book with selected speeches delivered by the Nazi leader between 1939 and 1942 was published in the Czech Republic and Slovakia last year; after several booksellers pulled it off the shelves, it is now only sold on the internet. The publisher said it gave people the chance to form their own opinion.
Every ninth Czech child lives with unmarried parents, according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. The so called factual marriages with children account for 11.2 percent of all Czech families. However, the numbers differ greatly in each region; the highest share of factual marriages with children – around 15 percent – has been registered in Prague and the Karlovy Vary region, the lowest – 8 percent – in the central Vysočina region. Some 44 percent of all factual marriages in the country have children.
The police have arrested a 50-year-old man suspected of robbing four banks in Prague. The man used a different disguise in each of the robberies, posing as a person of a different age each time. The police said he had confessed to the crimes, saying he robbed the banks so that he could pay his large debts. The police did not reveal the amount of money the man stole; he faces ten years in jail.
UK actor and musician Hugh Laurie, who starred in the popular Dr House TV series, will perform with his Copper Bottom Band in the Czech capital on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s show in Prague’s Congress Centre is sold out, and organizers have added another performance. Hugh Laurie is touring to promote his new record Didn’t It Rain which draws on traditional American blues.
Slovan Liberec have reached the next qualifying round of the Europa League, European soccer's second-tier club competition. After a 1:2 home defeat to Skonto Riga last week, Liberec beat the Latvians 1:0 on Thursday night, going through on the away goals rule. Sparta Prague, meanwhile, are finished in Europe for this season; they had drawn 2:2 at home with Sweden's Häcken in their first leg tie but lost 1:0 in Sweden on Thursday night.
Czech swimmer Zdeněk Tlamicha will participate in an international relay swim across the Bering Strait. 40 swimmers from 14 countries will attempt to cross the 86-kilometre wide strait between Cape Dezhnev in Russia and Cape Prince of Wales, Alaska, next weekend. They expect to cover the distance in between 40 and 50 hours. No such swim relay has ever crossed the Bering Strait before.
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