News

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Former district mayor charged with abuse of authority

The police anticorruption unit has charged former district mayor Milan Jančík with alleged abuse of authority by a public official, related to the transfer of debts to reclamation agency Agentura Praha 5. In a contract signed between Mr Jančík and the agency, the firm was transferred more than 63 million crowns in unpaid debts in return for 4.4 million, but police say the contract was illegal as it had never been approved by the city council. Police claim that the former mayor, dogged by numerous corruption allegations in the past, knew clearly that the move was outside of the law. The anticorruption unit renewed its investigation into the case last March after the Czech branch of Transparency International put forward a fresh criminal complaint; if found guilty in the case, Milan Jančík could face between two to ten years in prison.

Daily: PM and interior minister at odds over points in anticorruption package

The financial daily Hospodářské noviny has reported the prime minister will seek changes to an anticorruption package proposed by Interior Minister Radek John. According to the newspaper, Petr Nečas, is not satisfied on 11 out of roughly 50 points in the proposal, including changes that would make it easier for the police to check suspects’ tax records. The prime minister sent his objections to Interior Minister Radek John on Monday, two days before the government is due to debate the package. In response, Mr John launched criticism of the prime minister for not making his objections known earlier and for making them known only after parties voted to back the government in a recent no-confidence vote. In Mr John’s view, changes proposed by the prime minister will significantly weaken planned anticorruption measures.

Interior minister says ten-member committee will assess applicants for post of police president

Interior Minister Radek John announced on Tuesday that a ten-member committee will decide on a successor to Oldřich Martinů, the police president who stepped down at the end of December. His departure is thought to have been to be at the centre of a deal between the coalition government parties which helped them survive a vote of no confidence. Individual candidates will be able to apply until Monday, the interior minister said. So far two people have publically expressed interest in the job: deputy police chief Ivan Bílek and Deputy Interior Minister Viktor Čech. The ten-person committee that will assess candidates includes two former interior ministers: Martin Pecina and Frantíšek Bublan, both members of the opposition Social Democrats.

State attorney’s office throws out charges against motorist

The regional state attorney’s office in Prague has returned a case against 43-year-old motorist and businessman Aleš Trpišovský to police investigators, saying there was currently no evidence he had committed a crime. The office also said the case file had significant shortcomings. Police suspect Mr Trpišovský of having purposely driven recklessly on the country’s D1 highway in an attempt to cause grievous bodily harm or damage to personal property. According to reports, the suspect purposely hit the brakes in front of slower vehicles in two incidents last week. In one of the cases, the car behind him was able to stop, but in the other the driver crashed. If the case did go to trial and the suspect was found guilty, he would face between five to 12 years in prison. A police spokesman said the police would continue their investigation.

Husband of former Olympic athlete sentenced to 3.5 years in prison

A court in the southeast of the country has sentenced 76-year-old Jaroslav Šmíd, the husband of former shot-put champion Helena Fibingerová, to three-and-a-half years in prison for drunk driving and committing grievous bodily harm, which resulted in death. The motorist struck from behind and killed a 36-year-old cyclist and father of three in 2009. The state prosecutor had sought a tougher sentence of 4.5 – 5 years and immediately appealed. The defendant in the case admitted he had been drinking wine at the time of the accident, but maintained it was the cyclist who swerved into his path and that he had tried to steer out of the way. The judge said that Mr Šmíd had probably not registered the cyclist at all. The defendant was not in court when the sentence was read.

Directorate reports nine billion in damages to roads from tough winter conditions

The Road and Motorway Directorate has reported that tough winter conditions so far this season have done damages worth nine billion crowns to the country’s major roads and highways. According to the directorate, that is a billion crowns more than available in its 2011 budget. A year ago, the bureau faced similar problems when it was four billion short, leading only major throughways to see needed repairs. The cost in damages this winter, a spokeswoman said on Tuesday, is still expected to go up. The Czech Republic was hit by record cold spells and high snowfall in December and conditions have not let up. One of the regions hardest hit in terms of damage to road surfaces is central Bohemia.

Observatories see heightened interest over partial solar eclipse

Czech observatories saw heightened interest by visiting schools, as well as members of the public, in the partial solar eclipse observable throughout parts of the Czech Republic on Tuesday morning. The eclipse in the country was most visible at around half-past-nine when the moon blocked four-fifths of the sun. Observers were able to directly view the celestial phenomenon either at observatories or on their own, using welder’s goggles or looking through developed film. Along with the partial solar eclipse, Czechs will be able to view two lunar eclipses later in the year.

Prague 1 orders Roxy to shut down

The well-known Prague music club and gallery Roxy has been ordered to close its doors after undergoing a check by hygiene and fire officials. Inspectors reportedly uncovered numerous potential health and safety risks, among them a lack of enough emergency exits, proper exit markings and the proper location of fire extinguishers. The entire club was shut down by Prague 1 on Tuesday morning. The club’s owners will have to apply for new construction permits and eliminate all shortcomings in order to reopen. In the past, Roxy has also been criticised by the city for not respecting closing hours, or for letting more people than was safe into the venue’s discotheque.

Bauer moves from 21st spot to 8th midway through Tour de Ski

Czech cross-country skier Lukáš Bauer improved his position in this year’s Tour de Ski on Monday, from 21st spot to eighth overall, as the fourth out of eight races was held in Obersrtdorf, Germany. On Monday the Tour’s defending champion finished fifth, but remains 1 minute and 55 seconds behind Swiss leader Dario Cologna. The Tour will now move to Italy for the final four events. Bauer has expressed the hope he could still finish within the medals this year but says he expects Cologna will take the gold.

Dakar Rally: Spáčil out, Loprais in good shape, Macháček strengthens lead in Quads

Czech Tatra truck racer Marek Spáčil and fellow team members Vodrhánek and Vršecký have withdrawn from the Dakar Rally underway in South America. They took the step after crashing in the second stage, the Czech Dakar Team reported its website on Tuesday. Unofficial reports said the truck flipped over onto its roof; none of the crew members were injured. On Sunday, following the opening stage from Victoria to Cordoba, Spáčil and co. had been in sixth place, 13 minutes off of the leader.

The most promising Czech contender in the Truck category, Aleš Loprais, is currently in second place, seconds behind leader Firdaus Kabirov of Russia.

Quad rider Josef Macháček, meanwhile, has widened the gap between himself and other opponents following a second-place finish in the second stage. After winning the first, he leads the Quad category over all and now has a five minute gap between himself and nearest rider Alejandro Patronelli.

Weather

The start of the week should be overcast with snow in places. Highest day temperatures should range between -3 and +1 degree Celsius.