Czech police’s organized crime squad arrested on Tuesday a group of police officers in southern Moravia suspected of corruption and violent crime. A spokesman for the unit said most of those detained during the raid in Brno were current and former employees of a police department dealing with economic crime. A former inspection officer of the Interior Ministry is among those detained. According to the news website Lidovky.cz the group covered up major cases of economic crime in return for large sums of money. More arrests are expected to take place in the next few days. In view of the ongoing investigation further details have not been disclosed.
The Czech Republic paid nearly twice as much for Spanish-made CASA military transport aircraft as Portugal, the Czech daily Lidové noviny reported on Wednesday, quoting the British review The Military Balance. In 2009, the Czech army paid over 51.7 million US dollars for each of the four planes while Portugal bought 12 CASA aircraft in 2008 for 27.1 million US dollars apiece. However, the final cost might be even higher as the Czech authorities agreed to pay for three planes and exchange the fourth for five Czech-made L-159 combat planes. In that case, the overall price of the deal would reach 3.5 billion crowns. The paper says that former defence ministry officials responsible for the deal, including then minister Vlasta Parkanová, refused to comment on the case.
Two Czech diplomats have been appointed to lead the European Union’s mission to Sudan and Guyana, the bloc’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement on Wednesday. Tomáš Uličný, who will head the EU’s mission to Sudan, and Robert Kopecký, who will be in charge of the union’s delegation to Guyana, are among 25 new chiefs of EU missions appointed on Wednesday. Earlier this year, another Czech diplomat Jana Hybášková was appointed the head of the EU’s diplomatic mission to Iraq.
Czech human rights activists on Wednesday asked Prime Minister Petr Nečas and the leaders of the other two coalition parties to push for the removal of the controversial right-wing figure, Ladislav Bátora, from his post of human resources director at the Education Ministry. In an open letter, members of the Czech Helsinki Committee, Amnesty International, Romea, IQ Roma Servis and others said Mr Bátora was linked to racist and anti-Semitic groups and asked the officials to make sure right-wing extremists do not get jobs in state administration.
Ladislav Bátora, who is a staunch opponent of multiculturalism, feminism and antidiscrimination, ran in 2006 for a seat in the lower house on the ballot of the extremist National Party. In April, he became an advisor to Education Minister Josef Dobeš, from the Public Affairs party, who earlier this month appointed him the head of the ministry’s human resources department. Ladislav Bátora has rejected all accusations of racism and extremism.
The standoff continued on Wednesday between loggers and environmentalists trying to prevent the felling of bark beetle-infested trees in the Šumava National Park. Up to a hundred activists are expected to turn up in the area where the park management wants to fell hundreds of trees to prevent the spreading of the bark beetle. The environmentalists, who believe the trees should be left to decay naturally, have been trying to prevent logging in the area since July 15. Meanwhile, around 100 local inhabitants gathered in the area on Wednesday to protest against the environmentalists and to show support for the park’s management.
The Culture Committee of the Czech Senate on Wednesday voted in favour of revising the planned demolition of a building on Prague’s Wenceslas Square. Committee members argued Prague City Hall officials who approved the demolition as well as Culture Minister Jiří Besser who backed their decision failed to take into account experts’ opinions on the matter.
Earlier this year, Prague City Hall approved a request by the owner of the 130-year-old building to demolish it and build an office complex in its place. The plan has raised concerns both among the public and preservationists.
The average monthly pension in the Czech Republic will increase in January by 2.3 crowns to just over 10,800 crowns, or 636 US dollars, according to a proposal by the country’s Labour and Social Affairs ministry released on Wednesday. According to recently approved legislation, Czech pensions are to be increased each January by inflation and a third of the real wage growth. The basic pension rate increases to represent 9 percent of the average salary.
The Czech construction firm Bögl a Krýsl will participate in a 4.5 billion crown deal to finish the construction of a highway between the Polish cities of Warsaw and Lodz, the Czech news website ihned.cz reported on Wednesday. The firm is part of a consortium of companies that will finish the job started by a Chinese firm which was recently fired by the investor for a severe costs hike. The 20-km stretch of highway should be finished in October 2012.
An appellate court in Prague on Wednesday confirmed a 22-year sentence for a 39-year-old man who brutally murdered another man over the PIN code for his credit card. In October 2010, the victim invited the man along with his female friend to his apartment in Česká Lípa, in the north of the country. There they attacked the man and strangled him with a wire to make him reveal the PIN code for his credit card. When he complied, the couple murdered him anyway, and went on a spending spree until they were arrested a week later. The 21-year-old accomplice was already sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Former government minister Aleš Řebíček has become the majority owner of the football club Slavia Prague, the news website ihned.cz reported on Wednesday. Mr Řebíček, who served as transportation minister between 2006 and 2009, bought a 70-percent stake in Slavia from the financial group Natland and now owns 98 percent of the club’s shares. During his term at the ministry, Mir Řebíček came under heavy criticism for lack of transparency and corruption allegations.
The Czech Republic’s women’s team won silver medals in the 50 metres rifle prone event at the European Shooting Championships in Belgrade, Serbia on Wednesday. Individually, Olympic champion Kateřina Emmons finished 11th in the event, Lucie Válová 12th and Adéla Sýkorová 21st. The Czech women’s team finished just one point behind the winning Swedes. Czech men won bronze in the 50-metre running target event on Thursday while Jaroslav Hanuš won bronze in the same event individually.
The next few days will be mostly overcast with occasional rain showers and storms. Daytime highs should range between 24 and 28 degrees Celsius.