Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek was questioned by the police on Monday in connection with the spying scandal that brought down the centre-right government. The case revolves around ex-prime Minister Petr Nečas’ chief of staff Jana Nagyová who secretly commissioned the country’s military intelligence to spy on the former PM’s wife. The head of military intelligence Milan Kovanda and his predecessor Jan Pohůnek have also been charged with abuse of office. Defense Minister Picek, who himself was in office at the time, said it was up to the court to decide on his subordinates’ guilt and his own measure of responsibility in the case.
The regional court in Liberec has handed out three to sixteen year sentences for attempted murder in the case of a group of Romanies who launched a brutal machete attack on people in a bar in Novy Bor. Two of the five accused who led the attack got 15 and 16 year sentences, the others three to five years in jail. The incident happened in August of 2011 after two young Romanies felt they had been slighted by some of the guests in the bar. They left and soon after five other Romanies appeared armed with machetes and knives and started attacking people in the bar at random. One man, who was attacked with a machete, nearly died of his injuries.
Former deputy labour minister Vladimir Šiška and the former head of the ministry’s IT department Milan Hojer have been charged with bribery and abuse of office in connection with a dubious public tender. The police suspect Šiška and Hojer of trying to bribe the OK system company with the promise of a 100 million crown public order if they withdraw their complaint against the ministry at the anti-trust office. The two men were detained and briefly held in custody in October 2012. The scandal resulted in the resignation of then labour minister Jaromír Drábek.
Police know the identity of the two-year-old girl who was abandoned on Prague’s Wenceslas Square on Saturday. The child’s father, who handed her over to a group of homeless people saying he would be back in five minutes, appeared to claim her on Monday morning. The orphanage called the police who detained the man on suspicion of child negligence. The child’s mother is reported to be in prison.
The state-run forest management company Lesy ČR saw its gross profit fall to 2.9 billion crowns in the first half of this year, from 3.2 billion a year ago, a company spokesman told the ČTK news agency on Monday. The drop is being attributed to church restitutions, the stagnation of timber prices on the market and the lowering of the company’s financial assets due to a payment of 6 billion crowns to the state budget. Lesy ČR administers 1.3 million hectares of forests, which is one sixth of the total area of the Czech Republic and about one half of all forests in the country.
The Education Ministry has shortlisted 22 scientific projects, primarily in biotechnologies, mechanical engineering and sustainable development, among which it will divide 600 million crowns from EU funds, the ministry said in a press release published on Monday. Among the successful applicants are Charles University in Prague, the Technical University in Ostrava, Masaryk University in Brno and Palacky University in Olomouc. A total of 36 research institutions applied for subsidies requesting 1.3 billion crowns in total.
The English-language weekly The Prague Post has stopped printing its paper edition and will go all- digital after 22 years on the market. Its publisher Monroe Luther said the paper would continue to be available online, via Kindle, iPad and smart phones. The paper covers all aspects of life in the Czech Republic with a heavy focus on politics, culture and business.
Czech traffic police have been increasingly focusing on long-distance tourist busses in the heat-wave checking out the technical state of the vehicles, whether drivers are taking compulsory breaks and so forth. The driver of a Polish tourist bus on its way to Croatia was found to be intoxicated and had his driver’s license confiscated on the spot. According to a police spokeswoman, the majority of Czech bus drivers fail to take the required breaks, increasing the risk of accidents on the road.
Police in Croatia said on Monday that the mountain rescue service in Biokovo had recovered the body of a man believed to be a Czech mountaineer who has been missing since Thursday. The 47-year-old man presumably lost his way in low visibility and fell off a cliff. Fifty rescue workers with sniffer dogs and a helicopter with thermal vision had been out combing the Biokovo mountain side for the missing man over the weekend. The rescue service on Friday confirmed the death of another Czech tourist who appears to have died of a heart attack out trekking.
Forecasters say that the current extreme heat will continue in the eastern part of the Czech Republic until Monday evening, with a wave of storms bringing strong winds, hail and heavy rain showers expected to cross the country from west to east in the course of the day. Record temperatures for July 28 were seen at over 110 Czech weather stations on Sunday, which was the hottest day of the year so far. Among the places where records were broken was Prague’s Karlov, which registered 37.5 degrees Celsius. Dozens of people were treated in the capital after collapsing due to the heat. There were long queues at outdoor swimming pools around the country, with some pools registering record attendance, the Czech News Agency reported.