Former senior Social Democrat MP and Central Bohemian governor David Rath was released from police custody on Monday, 18 months after he was arrested on corruption charges. Mr Rath’s release was ordered by Prague’s High Court which upheld his complaint against being held in custody; the court said the risk of Mr Rath avoiding trial was no longer an issue. David Rath, a former health minister and governor of Central Bohemia, was arrested in May 2012, along with several other people, over alleged corruption in several public procurement projects. The trial began in August; if convicted, David Rath faces 12 years in prison.
Employees of the embattled mining firm OKD have announced a series of strikes over disputes with the firm’s management related to a new collective agreement. The first four-hour strike will take place November 19; another, one-day strike is scheduled for 10 days later while a three-day strike is scheduled for early December, the leader of the company’s trade union said, adding the strikes could only be averted if the firm accepts the union’s demands. Last week, a majority of OKD workers voted in favour of the strike. Negotiations about a new, four-year collective agreement started in August; due to poor economic results, OKD wants to cut some benefits included in the current agreement. The firm is also planning to close down one of its mines, cutting around 3,000 jobs.
The leader of the Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, is scheduled to meet with President Miloš Zeman on Wednesday to discuss the party’s plans to form the next Czech government. It will be the first post-election meeting between the president and the Social Democrat chair, who faced a revolt within his party following their disappointing results in the election; the Social Democrats came first but with far fewer votes than expected. Mr Sobotka said he did not yet expect an official appointment to start talks on forming the government.
The European Commission has threatened to file legal charges against the Czech Republic for refusing to disclose the reasons why the French company Areva was disqualified from the tender for the expansion of the Temelín nuclear power plant. Areva filed a complaint with the commission, which has requested relevant information from the Czech authorities. However, they have refused to release the information on the grounds that a complaint Areva filed earlier with the anti-monopoly office is still being considered. The European Commission has given the Czech Republic until the end of the month to change its approach, and said it would act by mid-December.
The Czech Republic’s Supreme Administrative Court received 35 complaints over the general election which took place more than two weeks ago, a spokeswoman for the court said. The court has so far dismissed 12 of them – 11 due to their inappropriate form, and one over the fact it was filed too early. The deadline for filing complaints expired on Saturday; the court now has 20 days to address the remaining complains.
Czech retailers of computers, home appliances and other electronic goods have reported massive sales over the weekend in the wake of the Czech central bank’s intervention against the Czech crown. The news agency ČTK reported on Monday that sales in some chains as well as online shops increased by as much as 35 percent. The retailers believe that customers are buying Christmas presents before the central bank’s takes effect and increases the prices of imported goods.
The police have charged a 21-year-old woman with the murder of her newborn baby, a police investigator told reporters on Monday. The woman gave birth last April; the body of the newborn, wrapped in plastic bags, was found near the town of Havlíčkův Brod soon afterwards. The police said the woman kept her pregnancy secret, and did not seek medical assistance. Her former boyfriend, whose role in the case is under investigation, said he believed the baby was stillborn, a claim disproved by an autopsy. If convicted, the woman faces up to 20 years in prison.
Thousands of people attended the launch of Saint Martin’s wine in Brno on Monday where the first wine of the season was blessed by a priest on the city’s central square. In a revived marketing campaign, Czech winemakers offer new wines on November 11, the day of Saint Martin. Events featuring Saint Martin’s wine take place across the Czech Republic on Monday; in Prague, festivities are held in Náměstí Jiřího z Poděbrad and other places. Last year, some 2.2 million bottles of the wine were sold.
Lipno Lake in south Bohemia was awarded the title of European Destination of Excellence by the European Commission, as one of 19 sites around Europe. The award, dedicated this year to the theme of accessible tourism destinations, went to Lipno due to its complex offers for target groups with special needs, their distribution throughout the season, and the cooperation of all relevant local bodies, the head of the resort said. Four other Czech destinations entered the competition this year, including the Bohemian Switzerland and the Orlické Mountains.
Parents of young players are protesting the new logo of a volleyball club based in the central Bohemian town of Nymburk, the news website idnes.cz reported. In September, the club adopted a logo depicting a pig’s head and the caption Nymburské svině, or the Nymburk Swines. The club says it is a reference to the town’s alternate historical name of Svinibrod, or Swineford. The club’s official name – Volleyball Nymburk – has not been altered. The new logo has also provoked a reaction from the local authorities which have threatened to half public funding for the club. The club’s owner, meanwhile, says he hopes to reach agreement with the town hall.