- The anti-corruption police on Monday conducted a search of the offices of the state-owned forestry enterprise Lesy ČR.
- The regional court in Prague has annulled a two-year suspended sentence against a motorist who became the face of road rage in the Czech Republic.
- Unsuccessful presidential candidate Jan Fischer, who finished third in the first round, has indirectly expressed support for Miloš Zeman.
- Two seniors died on Monday in a nursing home fire.
- A 17-year-old girl is fighting for her life in a hospital in the region of Ústí after suffering methanol poisoning.
Anti-corruption police conduct search at Lesy ČR
The anti-corruption police on Monday conducted a search of the offices of the state-owned forestry enterprise Lesy ČR in Hradec Králové. The move, sources reported, is related to an investigation of a number of non-transparent tenders involving the purchase of IT technology. News site E15 reported earlier that the investigation was related to the fate of 340 million crowns said to have ended up in the hands of non-transparent firms with accounts in Switzerland. According to E15, there is reason to believe that IT contracts worth a total of 1.136 billion crowns had been purposely overvalued. The spokesman for the anti-corruption police, Jaroslav Ibehej, revealed on Monday there had been no arrests; the interim head and economic director of the firm, Michal Gaube, meanwhile, said the forestry enterprise was cooperating fully.
Court annuls Trpišovský’s sentence
The regional court in Prague has annulled a two-year suspended sentence only recently upheld by the Supreme Court against road rage driver Aleš Trpišovský. The annulment is in line with President Vaclav Klaus’s New Year’s amnesty, affecting sentences of up to two years. In his trial, Mr Trpišovský was accused of presenting a threat to public safety through dangerous and aggressive driving on the country’s D1 highway. According to eyewitnesses he repeatedly hit the brakes in front of slower vehicles as punishment for slowing him down. The presidential amnesty does not affect a seven-year ban forbidding Mr Trpišovský from getting behind the wheel.
Czech Republic attracted greatest number of investors since 2008
The Czech Republic was able to attract 48 companies to the country in 2012, which is the highest number since the financial crisis began in 2008, the financial daily Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday. Hospodářské noviny reported that the increase in the number and size of the investments is most likely due to the improvements in the tax code that came into effect mid-year, which allows for more tax benefits for companies.
Fischer indirectly backs Zeman
Unsuccessful presidential candidate Jan Fischer, who finished third in the first round of the country’s direct presidential elections, has indirectly expressed support for Miloš Zeman in the second round. Mr Fischer, a former prime minister, said he could not support the other candidate, Karel Schwarzenberg. In a statement for the Czech news agency, Mr Fischer accused Schwarzenberg of having hurt the interests of the country, referring to a statement during a debate in which Mr Schwarzenberg discussed the historic expulsion of 2.5 million Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II. The candidate expressed the opinion that from today’s perspective the expulsion would be regarded as a violation of human rights. Jan Fischer maintained that by comparison Miloš Zeman’s views were consistent and well-known. The unsuccessful candidate has said he himself will go to the polls but suggested he will not endorse either of the candidates beforehand, to allow those who initially supported him to come to their own decision.
Personalities back Schwarzenberg in new appeal
A number of well-known personalities have expressed support for presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg ahead of the deciding round of the presidential election. Public figures who signed an appeal maintaining that Mr Schwarzenberg would unite Czech citizens was signed by sociologist Ivan Gabal, musician Michael Kocáb, former interior minister Jan Ruml and others. The second round of the election is to be held this weekend. Others who had already expressed support for Mr Schwarzenberg include filmmakers Miloš Forman and Zdeněk Svěrák.
Miloš Zeman, the other candidate running, has also received his share of support from well-known personalities: they include performers Daniel Hůlka, Helena Vondráčková, Lucie Bílá, and actors Jiřina Bohdalová and Martin Dejdar.
Two seniors die in nursing home fire
Two old age pensioners, both women, died in a fire at a nursing home in Příbor in the area of Nový Jičín; four others were taken to hospital for treatment. Overall, 20 people had to be evacuated from the building. Police are investigating possible casues, focussing on the apartment where the fire broke out.
Supreme Audit Office: Environment Ministry erred in purchase of information technology
According to Supreme Audit Office of the Czech Republic, the Environment Ministry erred in the purchase of information technology. The ministry allegedly broke a number of laws in the process. Mistakes in public tenders worth almost one billion crowns are the most serious. Criminal charges are expected.
Several flights cancelled from Václav Havel Airport
Prague’s Václav Havel Airport had to cancel several flights on Monday due to poor weather conditions including in western Europe. Three flights for Frankfurt were cancelled, as were flights to Ostrava in the east of the Czech Republic.
Five-year-old injured in skiing accident
A five-year-old boy was seriously injured at a ski hill in the Jeseníky Mountains on Sunday when he was accidently struck by an adult skier. He suffered a broken upper arm and collarbone in the collision. The 23-year-old who crashed into the boy could be charged with negligence leading to bodily harm; if found guilty, he could face up to a year in prison. The Jeseníky Mountains saw more than 25 incidents in which rescuers were called at the weekend; areas were busier than usual, with skiers out in force to enjoy ideal snow conditions.
Preschooler saved from falling down elevator shaft
A 12-year-old boy saved his four-year-old sister from certain death in their pre-fab apartment building in Chrudim at the weekend, after the little girl opened the door to the elevator and the lift was not there. She came close to falling 20 metres down the elevator shaft but her sibling was able to pull her back in time. The elevator in the apartment building, according to news site tn.cz, had been under renovation, for several days. The firm involved denied it had made any mistakes. Police are investigating the incident.
Seventeen-year-old fighting for life in Ústí hospital
A 17-year-old girl is fighting for her life in a hospital in the region of Ústí after suffering methanol poisoning. She was transferred to hospital on Sunday. The cause of the poisoning has not yet been determined; the police are interviewing witnesses while a toxicology report on Tuesday is expected to reveal more. Forty people in the Czech Republic died of methanol poisoning following an outbreak last September after the chemical was used in illegal alcohol production by bootleggers.
Hockey: Jágr scores two, earns two assists for Dallas
Czech hockey star Jaromír Jágr got off to a dream start with his new NHL club the Dallas Stars. On Saturday the forward, who recently played in the Czech league during the NHL lockout, was involved in all four goals by his club, scoring two and earning two assists against the Phoenix Coyotes. The Stars edged the Coyotes 4:3.
In other NHL action, goalie Tomáš Vokoun got off to a good start with the Pittsburgh Penguins. The team’s No. 2 goalie stopped 31 of 34 shots by the New York Rangers after a 10-month layoff due to a groin injury and the NHL lockout. The Penguins won the game 6:3.
Icy conditions lead to dozens of car accidents
Icy conditions caused by freezing rain were behind dozens of car accidents across the country on Monday, as well as injuries to pedestrians who lost their footing on sidewalks. The situation in Bohemia is expected to improve by the evening with drizzle turning to snowfall. Icy conditions in Moravia, by comparison, are expected to continue in the early hours of Tuesday. Motorists have been warned to exercise caution.
It will be mostly overcast in the next few days with snow and freezing rain. Temperatures in the east will go up as high as 0 degrees Celsius, while in the west of the country daytime temperatures may dip as low as -7 degrees.