The Justice Ministry has said that it will not consider a demand for compensation by two men prosecuted but not convicted for allegedly bribing a member of parliament last year. The two men--one an assistant to Civic Democrat leader Mirek Topolanek, and the other a lobbyist with close ties to the centre-right party--were released due to a lack of evidence. The state's case against the two men, Marek Dalik and Jan Vecerek, has been suspended but left open in case new witnesses step forward. In addition to seeking compensation, they want the case permanently closed. The Freedom Union MP who made the accusation, Zdenek Koristka, has maintained that Dalik and Vecerek, acting on behalf of the Civic Democrat leader, last year offered him several hundred thousand euros and a diplomatic posting in Bulgaria to vote against the government in a confidence motion.
The Czech Republic has opened a temporary consulate in the Bulgarian beach resort city of Bourgas, a popular destination for Czech holidaymakers now for decades. The consulate, housed in a local hotel, will operate until the end of peak summer holidays, on August 31. The Czech consulate will cooperate with tour operators to help Czech tourists deal with Bulgarian authorities in emergency situations.
Justice Minister Pavel Nemec has asked the Chief State Prosecutor to prepare a comprehensive analysis on legal issues surrounding the long-term detention of suspects on the grounds that, if allowed out on bail, they could influence witnesses. The Justice Minister's request followed a Constitutional Court ruling that led to the release on Friday of Bohumil Kulinsky, the Bambini di Praga choirmaster charged with sexually abusing some 50 underage girls under his tutelage. Mr Kulinsky had been held in prison for over six months while awaiting trial. A justice ministry spokesman said that Nemec believes that the option of pre-trial detention has been abused by prosecutors. The Justice Minister wants to know the number of people placed into custody over the past 5 to 10 years and the reason for their pre-trial detention, said the spokesman.
The main opposition Civic Democratic Party, meanwhile, continues to dominate the political scene in the Czech Republic, according to a new poll by Factum. Nearly 34 percent of respondents said they would vote the Civic Democrat ticket in the next general parliamentary election. The poll shows, however, that the governing Social Democratic Party has gained back favour following the resignation of party chairman Stanislav Gross as prime minister this spring. The Social Democrats now poll at 23 percent, with the new prime minister, Jiri Paroubek, widely seen as a competent leader. Polling at just above 19 percent, the main Communist party remains a strong third, followed by the junior coalition Christian Democratic Party at some 11 percent.
Two Czech football teams scored victories in the second round UEFA Intertoto Cup action this weekend: Slovan Liberec dispatched Beitar Jerusalem 5-1, thanks to goals from Filip Holosko, Tomas Zapotocny, Libor Dosek and a double from Miroslav Slepicka. Another Czech team, Sigma Olomouc beat Pogon Sczecin of Poland 1-0, courtesy of a goal from Peter Babnic. The team from Zlin, however, lost 1-0 to the Belgian club Ghent. The UEFA Intertoto Cup is a between-seasons competition for clubs ranked directly below those that qualify for the UEFA Champions League and the UEFA Cup. The top three teams go on to take part in the UEFA Cup.
The American actress Sharon Stone was among the Hollywood stars on hand this Friday night for "A-list" celebrations ahead of the official opening of the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival. The festival, which takes place in the famous Bohemian spa town, is now in its 40th year. Ms Stone received the festival's Crystal Globe award for her contribution to world cinema. Also honoured was the Czech director Jiri Krejcik, aged 78, who was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Other big name celebrities invited to Karlovy Vary this year include Robert Redford, the founder of the independent Sundance film festival, and Ingmar Bergman's favourite actress, Liv Ulmann, who is now a director in her own right.
Several Social Democrat deputies serving on Parliament's defence committee are pushing for the Czech army's 1 billion dollar tender for the purchase of armoured personnel carriers—now underway—to be revised. The tender, agreed by the Cabinet in April, is the largest in the army's history. Social Democrat MPs Radek Turek and Antonin Seda are among those calling for the share of domestic Czech participation in any contract to be 40 percent or higher. The current tender sets that minimum at 25 percent. Formal bids to outfit the army with some 230 NATO-standard compatible armoured personnel carriers are now due at the Ministry of Defence by mid-July. But industry analysts say the deadline will need to be extended by a month or more, if the ruling Social Democrats succeed in changing the tender's conditions.
Two separate accidents along the main highway from the northern Bohemian city of Liberec to the Czech capital, Prague, tied up traffic for hours on Saturday. Several people received minor injuries in both accidents, which together involved a dozen cars. The accidents also caused complications for the organisers of the Skoda Auto "Ralleye Bohemia", an annual racing event in and around the city of Mlada Boleslav, home to the Skoda carmaker. Later in the day, a car competiting in the race crossed over a barrier and struck three spectators.
The English football club Fulham has confirmed it is looking to sign Sparta Prague striker Tomas Jun, the leading scorer in the Czech top-flight last season. The 22-year-old Czech international is believed to be valued at £2.7million. A representative for Jun told Sky Sports that discussions were still underway, with no official bid yet on the table.
A comprehensive economic analysis of the questionable leasing of Czech state-owned property in Moscow a decade ago has finally been completed. State attorney Zbynek Podlipny said the results of the analysis show that the Cesky Dum (Czech House) in Russia had been rented to a private Czech company for less than two-thirds the market rate at the time. The analysis also shows that the accounting books had likely been altered after the contract was signed, in order to obscure the 14-million crown annual loss to the Czech state. Three foreign ministry officials are now being prosecuted in connection to the Cesky Dum case and face 5 to 12 years in prison. The most senior of the three, former foreign ministry general secretary Karel Srba, is already serving an 8-year prison sentence for contracting the murder of the Mlada fronta Dnes journalist who first exposed the dubious contract. The plot to kill reporter Sabina Slonkova was foiled after the man hired to kill her went to the police.