A Prague court has handed former chief hygiene officer Michael Vít a three-year suspended sentence for signing unnecessary contracts for advisory services while he was a deputy minister for health in 2007. Mr. Vít was found guilty of exceeding the powers of an official and breach of trust. He has been ordered to repay the ministry CZK 1.7 million crowns. The verdict can be appealed.
Smoking in restaurants and pubs in the Czech Republic could become illegal from January 2016, under a bill being prepared by the Minister of Health, Svatopluk Němeček, for presentation to the government later this year. Mr. Němeček has drawn on a previous unsuccessful amendment put forward by a predecessor, Leoš Heger, but has made some changes to the draft legislation, including adding a provision under which electronic cigarettes would be permitted in eateries. An estimated 30 percent of Czechs smoke, with around 18,000 people dying as a result of smoking in the Czech Republic every year.
The City Gallery Prague has launched a panel exhibition by a statue of Jan Hus on the city’s Old Town Square mapping the history and ongoing restoration of the large piece. The material holding the different parts together has been replaced, while the next phase of the renovation project will involve conservation work on the bronze exterior, cleaning the stone and renewing the seams. The job is set for completion next year, which will be the 100th anniversary of the statue’s unveiling and the 600th anniversary of Hus’s death.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a warning to Czech citizens not to travel to Libya. Ministry spokesperson Johana Grohová said any Czechs already in Libya were advised to leave the country as its government was not in control of the security situation amid fighting with militias. The conflict has led to the closure of the international airport in Tripoli. Ms. Grohová said the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was unaware of any Czechs being in Libya, though it did know of 10 who had married into local families.
The Ministry of Justice has turned down a pardon request from Jiří Kajínek, who is serving a life sentence for two counts of murder and one of attempted murder in 1993. Mr. Kajínek, who claims he was framed, has twice failed in appeals to the Constitutional Court to have his case reopened. Czech Television reported that the ministry had written to the prisoner on Monday to inform him of its decision. The minister of justice, Helena Válková, has said she regards Mr. Kajínek’s sentence as overly harsh, though President Miloš Zeman said he would not pardon him as his life was not in danger.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is opposed to a special law on the Šumava national park tabled by a group of Senators and approved by the upper chamber. Speaking after a meeting with the minister of the environment, Richard Brabec, Mr. Sobotka said he favoured general legislation on the country’s national parks that has been drafted by the Ministry of the Environment. It would make more parts of four Czech national parks accessible to the public. The government is due to discuss the Senate bill on Wednesday; it was approved despite criticism from environmental groups and contradicts the Ministry of the Environment’s draft legislation.
The directorial debut of actor Miroslav Krobot, Díra u Hanušovic (Nowhere in Moravia), was the biggest film at the box office in the Czech Republic in the last week. The movie, an amusing drama set in a small town, took over CZK 3.5 million in its opening weekend on sales of almost 28,000 tickets. Mr. Krobot heads the popular Dejvické divadlo theatre and several of its actors appear in the film.
The Czech Republic’s Export Bank and Slovakia’s Eximbank are to sign an agreement on cooperation in supporting joint Czech and Slovak business ventures abroad. The agreement, which is to be signed in the Slovak capital Bratislava on Tuesday, aims to bolster the two countries’ positions particularly on markets in the Far East where the now defunct label Made in Czechoslovakia still has a high brand awareness. The head of the Czech Export Bank Karel Bureš told the daily Mladá fronta Dnes that the agreement did not envisage the revival of the Made in Czechoslovakia label, an idea that was recently rejected by the Slovak president, but merely intended to support the two countries’ joint presence in business ventures and thereby increase their competitiveness.
The Czech government is to sign a deal with the South Korean company Hyundai Mobis on the construction of a four billion crown plant for the production of car headlights in Mošnov, north Moravia. The construction of the plant should start in summer 2015, and be finished in nine to ten months. It is expected to create around 1,000 new jobs in an area where unemployment is traditionally high. Hyundai, which has promised to invest into the local infrastructure, will be eligible to corporate income tax relief for ten consecutive years.
The Association of Czech pharmacies has protested against the plans of Czech Post to deliver over-the-counter medicines as a new service. It argues that this form of enterprise would be in violation of the law since the medicines would not be sold by a pharmacist who can offer medical advice on how they should be taken. The post which is losing traditional clients due to electronic communication has been diversifying its activities in order to curb a steep fall in profits. It claims that it is fully within its rights in offering such a service since over-the-counter medicines are already available on the internet.