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 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.
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.
Four Czech university students have received recognition for their work in an essay competition on the subject of Turkey and the European Union. Prizes were awarded at the Turkish ambassador's residence in Prague by the Turkish ambassador, Sabri Cenk Duatepe and by euro MP Jan Zahradil. The first prize in the competition went to Petr Preclik, a student of international relations at Brno's Masaryk University, who is said to have addressed questions of identity and cultural shift towards Turkey and the Balkan states.
Bohumil Kulinsky, the choirmaster of the Bambini di Praga children's choir, charged with the alleged sexual abuse of under-aged girls has been released from custody. Mr Kulinsky left Prague's Pankrac prison on Friday after being held for over half a year. Originally he was remanded in custody for fear he might influence witnesses before his trial. But, last week the Constitutional Court struck down a district court's decision, saying he should be released. Mr Kulinsky was first charged last autumn; the number of girls he is suspected of having sexually-abused - all members of the children's choir - has reached forty-nine.
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