The mining firm Czech Coal has accused its employees of embezzling at least 100 million crowns worth of coal. In a statement released on Wednesday, the company said an internal audit found the staff of its sales department had for years been “severely underpriced” coal to trading firms, some of which had ties to its employees. Czech Coal will close down its entire sales department as a result, and is going to file for criminal proceedings to be launched against those responsible.
A new poll of voting preferences suggests a five-percent surge by the senior coalition Civic Democrat party. The survey by the STEM agency puts the opposition Social Democrats in front with 34 percent of votes; the Civic Democrats came in second with 23.5 percent of the votes which is 5 percent more than in the previous poll which took place in December. Support for the coalition TOP 09 party decreased slightly to 17.5 percent while the third coalition party, the Public Affairs, would remain outside the lower house with 4 percent of votes. Support for the communist party dropped significantly to 12.5 percent, down by 4.5 percent from the previous survey.
Petra Kvitová beat the Italian Sara Errani 6:4, 6:4 in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday and reached the tournament’ final four. The second-seeded Kvitová played an aggressive game and broke the Italian’s service twice in the first set. In the second, the 21-year-old Czech made a series of unforced errors, giving her opponent a 4:1 lead. But Kvitová came back with a streak of five games in a row, wrapping up the game in less than two hours. In Thursday’s semi-final game, Petra Kvitová will face fourth seed Maria Sharapova from Russia.
The Czech Office for the Protection of Competition will review plans to close off the country’s top hockey league, the office’s head Petr Rafaj said on Wednesday. Mr Rafaj said his office was going to probe a possible cartel by hockey clubs; most members of the Czech Professional Ice Hockey Clubs’ Association voted in December to explore the possibility of closing the extraliga off to new teams, citing economic reasons and higher quality of the competition. The plans have come under criticism from sports journalists and fans who prefer to retain the league’s current system of promotion and relegation.
The police have launched a probe into corruption allegations surrounding Martin Dvořák, the former boss of the Prague public transport company, the news website aktualne.cz reported on Wednesday. Mr Dvořák faces allegations that dozens of millions of crowns were siphoned from the city-owned firm during his term as director; his mother then bought expensive real estate in Prague in a non-transparent deal involving several off-shore companies as well as a Prague law firm linked to lobbyists at the City Hall. Mr Dvořák and his mother have rejected any wrongdoing.
The government on Wednesday also gave conditional approval for the Czech Republic to join the euro zone’s planned fiscal compact. The ministers said the deal first needed to be finalized before it is approved in a referendum or by a constitutional majority in the Czech Parliament. The issue whether or not the country should join the planned fiscal union has created tensions on the Czech political scene. The coalition Civic Democrat and Public Affairs parties have taken a reserved stance to the plan and push for it to be approved in a popular vote. Cabinet ministers for the third coalition party, TOP 09, believe an approval by Parliament would suffice. The eurosceptic Czech president, Václav Klaus, had earlier warned he would oppose such a move.
The former owner of a miniature chihuahua which was once listed as the world’s smallest dog has to apologize to a vet who treated the animal for having accused him of its death. The Constitutional Court has upheld a previous verdict in favour of the vet who sued the owner, Miloslava Vašíčková, for her claims. The chihuahua, which was formerly listed as the world’s smallest dog in the Guinness Book of World Records, had to be put down in 2001. The woman then sued the vet for having caused the dog’s death, a claim rejected by the top court in 2010.
An appellate court in Olomouc on Wednesday upheld 18-year prison sentences for two Polish citizens who murdered their 49-year-old compatriot in Velké Meziříčí, some 150 km east of Prague, in January 2011. The two men severely beat the victim in a hotel room; after they left, the man bled to death. After serving their sentences, both Poles will also be expelled indefinitely from the Czech Republic.
A 51-year-old female patient committed suicide on Friday by strangling
herself in a caged bed at a psychiatric hospital in Dobřany, in western
Bohemia, the daily Právo has reported. A police spokesman said the woman
tore a hole in the net and strangled herself, just hours after she was
placed in the caged bed. The hospital’s director said the woman’s
condition deteriorated on Friday and she had become increasingly restless;
the doctor in charge of the ward decided to place her in the netted bed.
The director of the hospital added the patient’s state did not require
The Czech Republic has been criticized over the use of caged beds by a number of international human rights groups. In 2007, the government banned their use in social care institutions; however, they are still used in psychiatric hospitals which follow regulations established by the Czech Ministry of Health.
The Czech government on Wednesday approved a 1.5 billion-euro loan to the
IMF as part of the EU’s efforts to contain the debt crisis in the euro
zone. The cabinet will now approach the Czech central bank to release the
funds, and will provide guarantees for the loan, part of a 200 billion euro
package to rescue the single European currency. The Czech Parliament has
yet to approve the deal.
In December, EU leaders agreed to lend 200 billion euro to the International Monetary Fund in an attempt to ward off the bloc’s debt crisis. The EU asked the Czech Republic to contribute some 3.5 billion euro to the loan; an amount deemed too high by the country’s cabinet.
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