Persistent rain throughout the country has raised the water levels of rivers in northern Bohemia and Moravia, leading the authorities to issue high alert warnings in places: the most serious conditions on Friday were registered in the regions of Liberec, Hradec Králové and Šumperk. Meteorologists expect conditions to improve later in the Jizerský and Krkonoše Mountains, but to worsen elsewhere, namely in the Orlické, Jeseník and Beskid Mountains in north-eastern Moravia. Continued rainfall has led to the closure of several roads and bridges in Moravia; in one case, 45 children were evacuated from a summer camp but without incident. Water breaking the banks of the Morava River, meanwhile, has led to minor local flooding. Elsewhere, in western Bohemia, the danger of floods has gone down since Wednesday.
Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, in an interview for the Friday edition of the daily Hospodářské noviny, said that he was willing to discuss introducing progressive taxation for a limited period of time on condition that junior coalition member Public Affairs support the introduction of a unified VAT rate of 19 percent. Previously, Public Affair’s leadership had said that unless income was taxed progressively, they were not willing to support this step, which would put a significant burden on middle-class taxpayers and low-income groups. This is the first time that the finance minister has publicly said he was willing to consider progressive taxation. However, he added that changing the income tax rate for higher-income groups was out of the question. Instead, he said, progressive taxation could be introduced by changing other parameters, such as tax breaks for lower income taxpayers.
The justice minister, Jiří Pospíšil, has revealed that has he has honoured a proposal calling for the dismissal of the head of the High State Attorney’s Office Vlastmil Rampula. The minister told reporters on Friday that he had taken the decision a day earlier, in light of actions Mr Rampula took while in office: one was issuing an unsubstantiated order for subordinates not to appeal in an asset-stripping case involving the defunct IPB bank; other mistakes, according to the minister, included the mismanagement of staff. The Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman proposed that Rampula be dismissed back in March citing serious violations of the high state attorney's duties. The Czech branch of Transparency International, meanwhile, had called for Mr Rampula’s dismissal calling it a necessary step to restore public trust in the state attorney´s office.
The Czech anti-corruption police investigated cases worth 7.7 billion crowns in damages in the first six months of 2011 alone – a massive surge compared to 560 million crowns over the same period in 2010, anti-corruption police spokesman Roman Skřepek said on Friday. Detectives investigated 31 possible corruption cases, launching criminal proceedings in 16 of them and bringing charges against 44 people. Last year, the number of charges over the same period was seven fewer.
Detectives from the squad also seized property valued at almost one billion crowns. Compared to last year, the value of property confiscated had also surged, the unit spokesman said. He added that the seizure of crime profits was a top priority for the police unit as perpetrators feel the financial hit more than prison sentences.
The Czech Senate on Friday rejected an amendment to road safety legislation which would have ended a loophole in the law that often allows drivers to shirk the blame for speeding, when caught by a radar station and camera. Making use of the loophole drivers can refuse to pay for speeding tickets by saying simply they were not at the wheel of their vehicle at the time. The amendment proposed holding the owners of cars responsible, regardless of who was driving. It was rejected unanimously by 60 senators present (there are 81 in the upper house). The bill now goes back to the Chamber of Deputies, which can override the Senate decision.
The regional court in Ostrava has sentenced 32-year-old Slovak national Štefan Chudý to 10 years in prison for the rape of two children – aged eight and 10 – last January in the town of Orlové. At knife-point the suspect forced the children, a boy and a girl, to perform oral sex and other acts. Neither of the two has recovered from their ordeal, reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress. The defendant’s lawyer called the trial ‘nonsense’, saying his client’s admission of guilt to police had been coerced. The defendant has a chance to appeal.
Czech singer and pianist Markéta Irglová, who won an Oscar together with Irish musician Glen Hansard in 2008 for the Best Original song Falling Slowly, featured in the film Once, has married the Czech tabloid Blesk reports. According to the tabloid, the 23-year-old Czech celebrity tied the knot with American guitarist Tim Iseler; the daily cited Ms Irglová´s own statements on Twitter. Irglová, born in Valašské Mezříčí in north Moravia, is the only Czech woman to have won an Academy Award; at the age of 19 she was also the youngest person to win an Oscar in a music category.
Serbian filmmaker and musician Emir Kusturica will perform in Prague on Friday with his band The No Smoking Orchestra. The group is headlining a festival held on the bank of the Vltava River. Other performers will include Czech singer Dan Bárta. Mr Kusturica is a graduate from the Prague film academy FAMU who studied under the legendary Otakar Vávra. He is the director of a number of acclaimed films including Underground and Time of the Gypsies.
Czech boxer Lukáš Konečný will face reigning WBO Jr. Middleweight champion Sergiy Dzinziruk of Ukraine in the WBO title fight to be held in the Czech Republic in September. The date of September 30 was revealed by the World Boxing Organisation’s president, Francisco Valcarcel, but the location of the match has not yet been disclosed. Candidate cities reportedly included the capital Prague, Ústí nad Labem, and Karlovy Vary, but the Czech news agency, ČTK, says it has information the three cities are no longer in the running. Konečný has welcomed the decision regarding the date but will have to shed 12 kilos ahead of the match, both through training and a special diet. The Czech fighter has won 47 out of 50 professional matches.
Cloudy conditions with rainfall in places are expected to continue into the weekend; daytime temperatures should range between 18 and 22 degrees.