Prague Municipal Court gave the former head of the the Regional Council of the South-East Cohesion Region Jiří Trnka and his colleague Martin Půlpytel suspended three-year sentences for illegally manipulating European funding. Both men are accused of deliberately influencing the selection of projects for the 2009 Regional Operational Program funding call in order to secure equal funding for the Plzeň and the South Bohemian regions. The court also ruled that both men are prohibited from working with state funding, Mr. Trnka for five years and Mr. Půlpytel for four. Both deny the accusations and will most likely appeal the verdict.
Czech tennis star Petra Kvitová defeated 63th seed Venus Williams in the semi-final of the Torray Pan Pacific Open championship in Tokyo on Friday, with the score 3:6, 6:3, 7:6 (7:2). The two players have an even record of playing against each other. The 11th seeded Kvitová will face Angelique Kerber from of Germany in the final on Saturday. Czech top male tennis player Tomáš Berdych will be playing in the semi-final in Bangkok.
The Prague Public Transportation company (DPP) is around eight billion crowns in debt and on the verge of bankruptcy, the capital’s mayor Tomáš Hudeček said in an interview for Czech Television on Thursday evening. According to Mr. Hudeček, the main problem is a contract the company signed with Škoda Transportation in 2006 for 250 new trams to be delivered over 12 years, which is increasing the DPP’s debt by 2.3 billion crowns each year. The company says that they have encountered technical problems with all of the new 15T trams that were delivered so far, and have filed some 800 complaints with Škoda. If DPP fails to renegotiate the contract within the next six months, it will have to face major restructuring, according to the mayor.
The traditional Saint Václav pilgrimage has begun on Friday evening with the transport of the patron saint’s relics from Prague to the town of Stará Boleslav, where he was murdered in the 10th century. The majority of religious events of the celebration will begin on Saturday morning with a mass on Stará Boleslav’s Mariánské square, which will be led by the Prague Archbishop Dominik Duka. President Miloš Zeman will not be attending this year’s celebration, breaking with tradition set by his predecessor Václav Klaus, instead he will be celebrating his 69th birthday on Saturday.
The Prague police have recommended to the state prosecutor to indict an editor at the weekly magazine Reflex, Jiří X. Doležal, and the former deputy editor-in-chief Jaroslav Plesl for propagating the use of drugs. The police charged both men in August after an edition of the magazine came out containing a blurry picture, which was supposed to appear in focus once the reader smoked marijuana. The magazine also contained cigarette rolling papers and a notice on the front cover indicating that they were to be used to roll a marihuana joint. Mr. Doležal was the author of the article, and Mr. Plesl was at the time of printing filling in for the editor-in-chief. If the state attorney chooses to prosecute the case, the two men could face up to five years in jail or a fine if found guilty.
The Czech police have arrested six Vietnamese and three Austrian citizens over the sale of methamphetamine, a spokeswoman for the anti-drug unit of the police said. The Vietnamese face accusations of selling the illicit drug to foreign nationals at a marketplace in Kaplice, in southern Bohemia; the Austrians allegedly resold the drug in Austria. During several house searches, the police seized 1.2 kilograms of methamphetamine with a street value of two million crowns. The detained foreign nationals face up to 12 years in prison.
Former head of the Kladno hospital and a co-defendant in the David Rath corruption case, Kateřina Pancová, will be let out on bail after spending the last 16 months in police custody. Ms. Pancová is being tried together with former Central Bohemian governor and nine other people in a large-scale corruption case involving bribe taking and manipulation of tenders. The Prague Regional Court agreed to release Ms. Pancová in early September, but on Friday it finalized the decision by rejecting the State Prosecutor’s appeal which claimed she was at flight risk. Mr. Rath and another key defendant, former MP Petr Kott, remain in custody.
Doctors at Prague’s IKEM institute have for the first time successfully split a donated liver between two adult patients, a spokeswoman for the facility said. The operation took place on Monday when doctors transplanted the split liver to a man and a woman, a married couple who had suffered mushroom poisoning. The spokeswoman said she had no knowledge of a similar operation - splitting liver between two adult patients - being carried out anywhere in the world before.
More than a third of all the weapons exports from the Czech Republic last year went to countries which gravely violate human rights, according to a report released by the Czech branch of the advocacy group Amnesty International (AI). The study shows that of the 6.8 billion crown total arms exports, 38.6 percent were sold to countries without a democratically controled of the military, independent courts or police force and with authoritarian style of government. AI included countries such as Yemen, Egypt and Algeria on that list. The percentage of weapons exports to such countries increased by more than 4 percentage points since 2011.
President Miloš Zeman will not attend the national celebrations of St Wenceslas in Stará Boleslav on Saturday, breaking with a tradition established by his predecessor in office, Václav Klaus. Mr Zeman will instead celebrate his 69th birthday on that day, a spokeswoman for the president said. The celebrations mark the anniversary of the death of St Wenceslas, the Catholic patron saint of the Czech lands and founder of the mediaeval Czech state. September 28 is a national holiday in the Czech Republic. During his term as president, Václav Klaus regularly attended the festivities, using the opportunity to speak on issues of Czech statehood and the national identity.
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