Sentences of up to nine years have been handed down in the so-called Promopro affair, in which a company charged excessive sums for audiovisual services provided to the Czech government during it EU presidency at the start of 2009. The stiffest penalty of nine years was handed down to one of the Promopro company bosses, Jaroslav Veselý, with one of the firm’s main sub-contractors getting the same sentence. They were found guilty of fraud as well as laundering dirty money. Sentences of not guilty were delivered on three government officials involved in organized the EU presidency. The sentences can still be appealed.
The Czech Cabinet on Wednesday backed a proposal to make Good Friday a state holiday in the country. The move, if approved by both houses of parliament, would put the largely atheistic country in line with neighbouring Slovakia, Austria, and Germany. The original proposal to make Good Friday a holiday stemmed from the junior government party, the Christian Democrats. The Czech Republic currently has 13 state holidays although these sometimes fall at weekends and thus deprive employees of a well deserved day off. Backing for the new holiday has already been given by most major political parties with the exception of the communists. The holiday was ended during the early years of the former communist regime in the 1950s.
Remains found at a mass grave in the Prague suburb of Ďáblice last year belong to the priest Josef Toufar who was murdered by the communist secret police in the 1950s, sources connected with the research told the Czech News Agency on Wednesday. Toufar died following injuries sustained during his interrogation at the beginning of 1950. Police wanted to force him to admit that he had staged a ‘miracle; at his parish church. A crack down on the Catholic Church was staged by authorities at the start of the 1950s. The remains will be buried at the parish church where Toufar last served.
The annual Czech motorcycle grand prix at Brno appears to be threatened with closure. Plans for the August event to be subsidized by the city council collapsed on Tuesday night. The event’s organizer, Automotodrom Brno, with immediate effect stopped advance ticket sales. The final word on whether the race will go ahead will be given by the Spanish company and race promotor Dorna. Brno originally offered to increase its support to 50 million crowns. The south Moravian regional government had offered 67 million crowns to stage the event but organisers said the conditions attached were unacceptable.
One of the most notorious Czech criminals, David Berdych, has been freed from prison on the orders of a Czech court. Berdych had already served 11 out of a 15 year sentence for robbery. The realease is conditional on him not committing any further crimes for the next seven years. Berdych headed a gang which at its height is believed to have numbered around 50. It specialized in the kidnapping and ransom of businessmen and hijacking of security cars and had links with the police which helped in the organization and performance of some of their heists. The court decision is not likely to be appealed by the state.
Czechs are expected to spend 300 million crowns this year on buying erotic items on the Internet, according to research by the price web server Heureka.cz. That is around a fifth higher than last year. Apparently, the demand for S&M articles has soared followed the success of the book and film Fifty Shades of Grey.
From September night trams in Prague will run every 20 minutes rather than at the present frequency of every half an hour. Along with the nine tram routes, six of the busiest night buses will also run more often, Prague’s deputy mayor Petr Dolínek told reporters. In recent years night trams, particularly in the city centre, have been overcrowded at weekends, Mr. Dolínek said. The impact of the increased service will be assessed at the end of the year after a four-month trial period. There are no plans to extend metro services into the night hours.
In tennis, last year’s women’s singles Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitová has been seeded second for this year’s championships. The number one seed is Serena Williams. In the men’s singles, Tomáš Berdych, a former Wimbledon finalist, is seeded sixth. Kvitová’s number two spot faithfully reflects her place in the current WTA rankings. The top Czech woman player has pulled out of some of the Wimbledon warm up tournaments because of illness.
The manager and players of the Czech Under-21 football team will be following Wednesday nights match between England and Italy with particular attention. Although the Czech team was knocked out of the tournament on Tuesday night, they could be in line for a play-off match for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil,if England proceed in the tournament. The play-off between the two third placed teams of the Olympic place should take place on Sunday.
Hosts the Czech Republic have been eliminated from the European Under 21 Championship in football. The “Lion Cubs” put in an impressive performance against Germany at Prague’s Eden stadium on Tuesday night, coming from behind to draw 1:1 thanks to a goal from Ladislav Krejčí. However, that result in their final group game left them third, outside the semi-final places. The Czechs may not have played their final game in the competition: If England go through to the semi-finals on Wednesday night, they will play the third team in the second group on Sunday for a place at next year’s Olympics in Rio.
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