Czech Prime Minister Petr Nečas said on a TV debate programme on Sunday that Deputy Finance Minister Martin Barták should consider stepping down, if an investigation into allegations he solicited a bribe turns out to be long-lasting. The leader of the opposition Social Democrats, Bohuslav Sobotka, said the government should have immediately sacked Mr Barták when the accusations emerged this week. Tatra supervisory board member and former US ambassador to Prague William Cabaniss told a newspaper that while Mr Barták was deputy defence minister he had asked for cash to resolve a problem between the truck maker and a subcontractor. Another Tatra representative put the figure at millions of US dollars. Mr Barták has denied the charges and is now on unpaid leave.
The British pop group Simply Red were due to perform at Prague’s Tesla Arena on Sunday night. It has been billed as the last time the band will play in the Czech capital; the concert comes a year and a half after another show advertised as Simply Red’s final appearance in Prague, the Czech News Agency reported. The group, led by singer Mick Hucknall, first performed in the city in 2005, two decades after the release of their debut album.
The Czech Republic’s ice hockey team have gotten off to a less than ideal start to the season, taking no points in three games at the Karjala Tournament. After defeats to Sweden and Finland, they lost 1:3 to Russia in their final game on Sunday. They were the Czechs’ first games since winning hockey’s World Championships in May and the first under coach Alois Hadamczik, who previously helmed the national squad between 2005 and 2008. The Karajla Tournament is part of the four-nation European Hockey Tour.
Temperature records were broken in Prague and elsewhere in Bohemia on Sunday. It was 21.2 degrees Celsius at na Karlově in the capital on Sunday afternoon, considerably warmer than the previous record high of 16.7 degrees. Previously unseen temperatures were also recorded in Plzeň, Cheb, Ústí nad Labem and Doksany near Litoměřice. Temperatures usually range from 3 to 8 degrees Celsius at this time of year, meteorologists said.
From Sunday it will no longer be possible to buy monthly or three-monthly passes for Prague’s public transport network in paper form. Those wishing to purchase such a ticket will now have to get an Opencard, a chip card that can also be used to pay for other services. An exception is being made for third level students, who will still be able to buy monthly and three-monthly paper passes. It has not been possible to purchase a yearly ticket without an Opencard for two years.
Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the worst rail crash in the history of Czechoslovakia or the Czech Republic, when 118 people died and over 100 were injured at Stéblová, between Hradec Králové and Pardubice in east Bohemia. The accident occurred when two passenger trains collided before going on fire when hot coal from one ignited diesel in the other. The five-man crew of one of the trains were charged with negligence and sent to prison, though questions remain as to the exact cause of the crash.
Danish scientists are preparing to open the tomb of Tycho Brahe at a church in the Czech capital. They hope to settle a long-running dispute over what caused the death in 1601 of the astronomer, who served at the royal court in Prague at the invitation of Holy Roman Emperor and Czech king Rudolph II. Samples of Brahe’s hair and beard taken during a previous exhumation revealed a high level of mercury in his remains, contradicting a legend that he died of an internal infection after his bladder burst. Scientists will open the tomb at the Church of Our Lady Before Týn near Old Town Square on Monday and will give a news conference on Friday, when there will also be a mass conducted by the archbishop of Prague.
Just after the half way point in the season, the gap at the top of the Czech football league has narrowed to seven points. Leaders Viktoria Plzeň were held to a 1:1 at home by Slovan Liberec on Saturday, while second-placed Sparta Prague reduced their deficit after a 2:0 away victory over Slovácko. Plzeň have never taken the title, while Sparta have lifted the trophy 11 times since the establishment of the independent Czech league in 1993.
Czech police inspectors have arrested a traffic policeman in the Karlovy Vary region who is suspected of abuse of power, bribe taking and embezzlement. The policeman was caught when he levied a fine on a driver who was actually an undercover officer without providing a receipt or making any record of the fine. The arrest was made as part of an operation aimed at uncovering corruption by traffic police in the region.
Ondřej Liška has been elected leader of the Green Party at a weekend congress in Prague. Mr Liška, who is 33, had been acting chairman since the Greens’ leadership resigned following poor results in general elections in May. He had been the clear favourite and received 125 of 209 votes on Saturday. The party was part of a coalition government during the previous parliament, but failed to make it back into the lower house this year.
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