Police have closed an investigation into the highly publicized physical attack against Social Democrat Bohuslav Sobotka ahead of May’s general elections and are ready to file charges against the perpetrator. Mr. Sobotka, who is now the party’s acting chairman, was approached by a drunk 48-year old man who punched him in the face without warning. If charged and found guilty the man could face up to 6 years in prison for attacking a public official.
Parliament deputies on Friday failed to agree on who should be the country’s new Ombudsman, a post left vacant after the death of Otakar Motejl two months ago. He was the country’s first Ombudsman and served in the post for ten years. Two rounds of voting on Friday failed to produce his successor and the process of finding the right candidate will now go back to square one with the Senate and President expected to make new nominations. Parliament is bound to repeat the vote within 60 days.
Czech industrial output rose by 16.9 percent in May year-on-year after 10.9-percent growth in April and the seasonally-adjusted figure was 0.1 percent higher on the month, according to figures published by the Czech Statistical Office on Friday. Manufacture of motor vehicles, trailers and semi-trailers was the greatest contributor to the annual growth, its rise at 26.6 percent. Manufacture of fabricated metal products was 25.1 percent higher and manufacture of basic metals soared by 47.7 percent. The biggest drop of industrial production was reported for manufacture of beverages, down by 14.4 percent. Revenues from industrial activity at current prices increased by 17.3 percent compared with May 2009.
Prague mayor Pavel Bem has slammed a report on the partial collapse of the
Blanka tunnel under construction in Prague as woefully inadequate and has
urged the construction company Metrostav which submitted it to do better.
Mr. Bem said that he could not take responsibility for the accident unless
he had evidence to suggest that the city council had in some way shirked
its duty. The city hall will not release the report to the public and has
asked Metrostav to present a new one by next Tuesday.
According to press reports no cause has yet been given for the partial collapse, which left one worker buried under rubble near Prague Castle and a gaping hole on the premises of the Culture Ministry. The Blanka Tunnel has partially collapsed on two other occasions since it went under construction in 2007. When completed, it will be the longest municipal tunnel in Europe.
The incoming Czech prime minister Petr Nečas has congratulated his Slovak counterpart Iveta Radičová on her appointment to office on Thursday. Mr. Nečas said he would strive to further deepen relations between the two neighbour states and expressed gratification that he would be working with a centre-right administration in Slovakia. The Czech Republic and Slovakia already have very close links after 73 years of coexisting in one state. They went their separate ways in 1993, in what was termed the Velvet Divorce. The two countries now had general elections almost simultaneously with strikingly similar results – centre right coalitions.
Traffic police in Cheb on Thursday chased a driver who ignored their signal for him to pull over, only to find that they were dealing with a thirteen year old boy out on a joyride. When they signaled for the car to pull over, the driver stepped on the gas pedal instead and swerved sharply into a side road. After a brief chase the speeding car crashed into a lamppost and two teenage boys –thirteen and fourteen year-olds – attempted to make a dash for it. In view of their age neither will be charged.
Two snowy owls stolen from Ostrava zoo earlier this week have been returned by a man who unwittingly bought them from a dealer. The forty-five-year old man said he had bought the birds in good faith and only later heard of their disappearance from the zoo. A vet identified both birds and pronounced them to be in good shape. Police are still searching for the culprit. Following the incident the zoo is tightening security and expanding its camera system.
A Prague court has sentenced the fugitive Czech businessman Viktor Kožený to ten years in prison in absentia for fraudulent practices which damaged the Harvard Funds company he set up ahead of the post-1989 privatization process. Money was siphoned from the company’s accounts and used for dubious investment deals, damaging shareholders in the Czech Republic to the tune of billions of crowns. Mr. Kožený is currently living in the Bahamas and was sentenced in absentia. Efforts to get him extradited to the Czech Republic have so far failed.
The three parties of the emerging centre-right government have finalized the details of their coalition agreement. The document, which outlines a joint policy in key areas of administration, is to be signed on Monday after it has been reviewed by the leaderships of the Civic Democratic Party and TOP 09. Public Affairs –the third party in the emerging government – is getting a broad mandate from all its members through a referendum held over the Internet. The division of government posts has already been agreed on. President Václav Klaus plans to appoint the new government on Tuesday.
Traffic police reported the highest number of road deaths in a single day this year – after 10 people lost their lives on Czech roads on Friday. Traffic police attribute this to the current heat-wave in combination with speeding and alcohol. Last week’s extended four-day weekend took 26 lives. The police have appealed to drivers to exercise greater caution, to avoid unnecessary risks and take frequent breaks when driving in heavy traffic.
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