In related news, the battle between officials at the Prague High State Attorney’s office took a new turn on Friday with the newly-reinstated Vlastimil Rampula saying he would file a criminal complaint against his predecessor, Stanislav Mečl, and others for alleged illegal intrusion into a close aide’s office. The complaint is to be formally filed on Monday. The reinstated chief prosecutor, who showed CCTV images of the alleged intrusion at a press conference, also demanded an explanation from Mr Mečl and Supreme State Prosecutor Pavel Zeman. The images screened reportedly showed two individuals, accompanied by Mr Mečl, entering the offices of his deputy Libor Grygárek on the night of February 17.
Twenty-three year-old Czech goalie Michal Neuvirth stopped 30 shots in the Washington Capitals’ Friday night win over Montreal – putting the brakes on a largely miserable February run. Prior to Friday’s game the Caps had lost eight of 11 matches. The goalie allowed only one goal and was named the game’s first star. The final score was 4:1. The Washington Capitals are in ninth spot in the Eastern Division and have to improve if they want to qualify for this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs.
A new exhibition at the National Memorial on Vítkov Hill opened on Saturday allowing visitors to visit underground chambers where Czechoslovakia’s first communist president Klement Gottwald was embalmed. The historic site was infamously used as a mausoleum for Gottwald’s body after his death. The exhibition, named The Laboratory of Power, includes a machine room and other chambers where original equipment used in the embalming process was stored. Photographs and slogans are included to evoke the atmosphere of the 1950s – one of darkest periods in Czechoslovak history which followed with the Communist takeover in February 1948.
The Czech Justice Minister, Jiří Pospišíl, has suggested in an interview for Lidové noviny that if the newly-reinstated Chief Prague Prosecutor Vlastimil Rampula is not recalled by the supreme state attorney, he will leave the government. The chief prosecutor was sacked last July on the suspicion that he had been holding up key corruption investigations; last year, the Czech branch of Transparency International called Rampula’s dismissal necessary for the restoration of public trust in the office. However, in an appeal Mr Rampula’s dismissal was thrown out as unjustified by the Prague Municipal Court. In the Saturday’s interview, the justice minister nevertheless repeated that he stood behind changes that had been made at the prosecutor’s office and said if possible that he would push ahead with additional plans.
A 30-year-old motorcycle rider died in near the town of Kosmonosy in the area if Mladá Boleslav on Saturday after losing control of his vehicle and hitting a traffic sign. A local police spokesman said the motorist did not have a license for the motorcycle he was driving. The accident took place shortly after two-thirty pm: the rider swerved into the oncoming traffic lane as he lost control, before hitting the sign, the spokesman confirmed.
Melting ice and snow have raised water levels on numerous rivers
throughout the country leading to a number of flood threats. Regions where
warnings are in place include Hradec Králové, South Moravia and Olomouc.
The highest alert is in place in the area of Česká Lípa; the warnings,
issued by the Czech Hydometeorological Institute, will remain in effect
until noon on Sunday. It is expected that a drop in temperatures in
Saturday night will quell flood dangers.
Waterways in the Liberec region experienced problems on Saturday with two ice floes breaking away on the Jizera River: ten recreational homes were flooded in Dolní Sytové. In some places garages were flooded. Large pieces of accumulated ice saw a waterway break its banks in the regions of Plzeň where fire fighters intervened: bulldozers are being used to break up the ice pieces to free up the flow to try and prevent further flooding.
The chairman of the Senate, Milan Štěch has said he has yet considered which of four possible dates could be chosen for the Czech Republic’s first-ever direct presidential election. Voters will be able to choose a successor to current Václav Klaus at the earliest next January 11 and 12, 2013 and February 1 and 2 at the latest. Mr Štěch told the Czech news agency that the matter was being looked at by senatorial committees overseeing the changes. The change to the system of electing the president in the Czech Republic will see voters elect the new president directly, using a two-round system.
A part of Adolf Hitler’s collection of paintings has been rediscovered by an amateur Czech historian. Jiří Kuchar identified the seven paintings in a private section of a depository of the Doksany Monastery. Hitler had originally hid the works of art, which were either bought or seized, in the South Bohemian town of Vyšší Brod, apparently in preparation for the opening of a museum. After Germany´s defeat, the US Army sent the collection to a gathering point for similar artefacts. How the seven paintings came to be in Doksany is not known, according to TV Nova, which reported that no one from the monastery’s staff knew of their origin. Mr Kuchar estimated that the works could fetch up to 50 million crowns at auction.
The daily Právo writes that Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil is receiving heavy criticism from his party’s leadership, some of whom have reportedly demanded his resignation. Citing anonymous participants of a meeting of the top Civic Democrat leadership on Thursday, the paper writes that Mr Pospíšil was attacked from all sides regarding his designation of the head of the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office in Prague. The justice minister dismissed the previous head, Vlastimil Rampula, last November, and replaced him with Stanislav Mečl. A criminal complaint was reportedly filed against the justice minister this week on the grounds that the head of the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office must be appointed to the post, which Mečl was not. Mr Rampula has since received a court verdict that he be reinstated. Prime Minister Petr Nečas stated he is seriously dissatisfied with the crisis at the office. Mr Pospíšil maintains that he did not err in the decision and says there has been no talk of his own dismissal.
Some three dozen Czech Communists paid respects to former president Klement Gottwald at the Olšanský cemetery in Prague on Friday to mark the 64th anniversary of the February Coup. Communist deputy Marta Semelova gave a speech praising the 40 years of the Communist regime and denounced the post-communist era. The group laid flowers at the grave to which Gottwald's remains were transferred after the closing of the mausoleum at Vitkov Hill. The event was marked by particularly low attendance compared to previous years, when around 100, mostly elderly, people would attend.
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