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.
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.
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.
Historians believe that they have found a fragment of the last surviving holy relic of the Czech patron saint Václav, or Wenceslaus. According to the curator of the Prague Castle collections, Milena Bravermanová, a small gilded cross made of iron netting, which is currently on the Saint Jiří gonfalon, was most likely part of St. Václav’s banner. The technique used to make the cross is almost identical to the one that was used to make the Prince of Bohemia’s armor, which Czech scientists have been examining for the past few years. Saturday is a state holiday that marks the anniversary of Václav’s death in 935, when he was allegedly stabbed by his brother Boleslav.
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.
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 European Court of Justice has rejected a lawsuit filed by the European Commission against the Czech Republic and six other EU countries over their VAT rules for travel agents, the court said in a statement on Thursday. The European Commission sued the EU member states over the fact that travel agents were placed in a separate Vat category which applied not just to travellers but also to other clients. The commission believed this represented a breach of an EU directive. However, the court said the directive’s wording in various languages was too vague, and can be therefore applied to all clients.
The Czech authorities have asked schools to make a count of Romany pupils with light mental disorders, the news website idnes.cz reported on Thursday. The Czech School Inspectorate, part of the Education Ministry, is planning to use the data as evidence at the European Court of Human Rights that the number of Romany children segregated in special schools is declining. The Czech Republic has come under severe international criticism for placing disproportionately large numbers of Romany children in special schools because of their alleged mental disorders. The news website reported that some school directors objected to the request, complaining about racial profiling and the vague definition of Romany. The school inspectorate however warned that if schools fail to provide the figures, school inspectors will do the counting themselves.
The Czech National Bank on Thursday kept its key interest rate at a record low of 0.05 percent. The bank last changed the 2-week repo rate in November, lowering it by 20 basic points to the current value. Analysts believe the central bank will keep the rate unchanged until the end of next year. The bank on Thursday made no decision on launching a currency intervention to lower the value of the Czech crown; however, the bank’s governor, Miroslav Singer said the move was very likely to happen in the future.
The board of directors of Prague’s transit authority on Thursday accepted the resignation of the firm’s CEO, Milan Křístek, a day he offered to step down. Mr Křístek was planning to leave his post by the end of November but the head of the board said that due to ongoing problems of the company, his resignation was accepted without further delay. Commentators say Mr Křístek’s decision to offer his resignation was motivated by waning support he felt from Prague City Hall, the company’s owner over his plans for the company, including increasing the prices of tickets for Prague’s metro, trams and buses.