A Prague court on Friday dismissed charges against controversial Czech lobbyist Ivo Rittig in a case of alleged fraud at the company Oleo Chemical. Rittig and nine other people faced charges of tax evasion, money-laundering and embezzlement of large amounts of company funds. They were alleged to have been paid around 20 million crowns by the company for fictitious services. Four people involved in the case received sentences of up to six years in prison. Rittig, a former boxing promotor, is famous as a behind the scenes fixer concerning dubious deals involving Prague City Hall.
The Czech Republic’s state debt last year dropped by 59.6 billion crowns to 1.613 trillion crowns, the Ministry of Finance announced on Friday, confirming the data released in December last year. The total debt breaks down into every Czech owing around 153,000 crowns. Among the main factors behind the drop is the state budget surplus amounting to 61.8 billion crowns and better management of state treasury liquidity.
Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka who is running for re-election as chairman of the Social Democrats has received backing from 13 out of the 14 regional party branches, the ctk news agency reported, following a final vote in the Moravia-Silesia region on Thursday. Only the South Bohemia party branch failed to support Sobotka ahead of the party’s election conference in March. Sobotka said he appreciated the strong backing ahead of what he said would be a big battle for the maintenance of the welfare and democratic state. So far he has no rival for the post of party leader.
The head of the ultra-right party Adama Bartoš has been charged with Holocaust denial and inciting racial hatred, Czech Radio reported on Friday. According to the police, Bartoš intentionally incited hatred of Jews as well as immigrants in his speeches and published texts. The case will be heard by a Prague district court. If found guilty, Bartoš would face up to three years in prison.
A new bell named after the late president Václav Havel arrived at Prague’s St Havel’s Church on Friday. The bell was cast on the occasion of what would have been Václav Havel’s 80th birthday by the renowned Austrian Bell foundry Grassmayr in Innsbruck, a city where Mr Havel underwent acute surgery in 1998. The money for the bell was raised by the Charter 77 Foundation. The bell will be displayed in the church until March 5, when it will be consecrated.
A new exhibition mapping the vanishing architectural legacy of Iraqi’s Mosul got under way on Friday at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague. A team of experts from the Oriental Institute have been documenting the unique architecture in Mosul since 2015 from earlier records. The exhibition Monuments of Mosul presents the findings of archaeological and historical research as well as digitally recreated versions of some of the monuments, which have been destroyed by ISIS. It will be on display until the end of March.
The upcoming weekend is expected to be mostly cloudy, with daytime temperatures reaching up to 4 degrees Celsius.