Prague councillors have voted to file a claim for damages linked to the Opencard system against former city officials, including one-time mayor Pavel Bém. Councillors say they hope the move will lead to the prosecution of Mr. Bém and others over the Opencard, an electronic ticket for public transport and other services that is being discontinued. The system cost Prague around CZK 1.7 billion. A spokesperson said City Hall had been considering the move for over a year.
A five-year-old boy died on Sunday after being attacked by a dog in the village of Lužec nad Cidlinou in the Hradec Králové region, police spokesperson Jan Čížkovský told the Czech News Agency. The boy succumbed to serious injuries sustained in the attack, said Mr.Čížkovský, who added that the police were at the start of their investigation into the matter. The police later revealed that in fact more than one canine was involved. The last case of a dog killing a child in the Czech Republic occurred in Prague in 2012.
March 1 marks the beginning of the end for Prague’s Opencard, a multipurpose transit pass dogged by controversy, not least for its more than billion crown price tag. On Tuesday, Prague authorities began issuing its replacement, the Lítačka; all the same, it will be some time before the Opencard is fully phased out.
Prague’s Blanka tunnel went into operation at 3 PM on Saturday, four years after it was originally meant to open. The six-kilometre tunnel is the most expensive building project in the history of the Czech capital with a final price of CZK 43 billion, CZK 10 billion more than originally envisaged. When rain-damaged cables in the complex had to be replaced earlier this year it was feared Blanka – which was commissioned under former mayor Pavel Bém – would not actually open until 2016.
Former Prague mayor Pavel Bém would like to head the Lisbon-based European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, according to a report by the daily Lidové Noviny. Mr Bém has reportedly passed the first selection round and is now one of five candidates for the job, with another four selection rounds to be held in the coming months. Pavel Bém served as Prague mayor between 2002 and 2010. He was involved in several controversial projects including the overpriced construction of a tunnel complex in the capital and a transit pass system for the city’s public transport. A physician by education, he was one of the Czech Republic’s leading experts on drugs before taking over Prague City Hall.
Prague is grappling with the multi-billion Blanka tunnel complex, the biggest and most expensive project in the city’s history. The costs of the project have far exceeded original estimates, and its completion has been delayed by years. But now, the mayor of Prague has voiced a shocking argument – the contract between the city and the construction firm was invalid from the start.
Former transport minister and Public Affairs leader Vít Bárta who is being investigated by police in connection with information leaks from the police force has been charged and released. Mr. Bárta was released on Friday evening after spending 24 hours in detention. The police have imposed an information embargo on the case and Vít Bárta himself has refused to comment apart from telling journalists he was innocent of the charges against him. According to the internet news site idnes.cz the Public Affairs leader, who once owned the biggest detective agency in the land, has been charged in connection with information leaks of police wiretappings of conversations between the former Prague mayor Pavel Bém and influential Prague businessman Roman Janoušek. The head of the information division of the anti-corruption police Jan Petržílek has also been questioned and charged in connection with the case.
Former Prague mayor Pavel Bém on Tuesday testified before a city court dealing with the case of the multi-purpose Opencard project that provides access to public services. Mr. Bém rejected the claim that the project had been severely overpriced, a conclusion reached by independent auditors. Five of his former subordinates have been charged with abuse of office and violating public procurement rules in connection with the case. Prosecution argues that the contracts signed were highly disadvantageous for Prague and squandered tens of millions of crowns form public funds.
Former Prague mayor and Civic Democratic MP Pavel Bém issued a statement on Tuesday saying that he would do his utmost to assist former president Václav Klaus if he were to return to politics. In the statement, which was published on the Parliamentní listy website, Mr. Bém wrote that Mr. Klaus could become a symbol of right-wing values, which would help the ailing Civic Democratic party. In an interview on Sunday, Mr. Klaus said that he sees the current political situation as dire and that he is considering returning to politics. He has not yet announced any concrete decision.