The Czech government has appointed Milan Kovanda the new head of military intelligence, the news website respect.cz reported on Thursday. His predecessor, Ondřej Páleník, said he had decided to step down after five years in the post. The new director of the service, Milan Kovanda, joined the army in 1992 and has served in Afghanistan and Kosovo. In 2001, Mr Kovanda became the commander of a special forces unit of the Czech army that was involved in direct military combat in Afghanistan.
Doctors in Ostrava have found out that a 73-year-old woman, who died in the north-eastern town of Havířov in May, was killed by methanol. They will now revise the results of 150 autopsies that have been carried out since May to confirm whether any of the deceased also died due to methanol intoxication, the head of the Ostrava hospital’s forensic department said on Thursday. Ten people have died of methanol poisoning in the Moravian-Silesian region.
Methanol-laced bootleg liquor claimed its 18th victim in the Czech Republic when an older man died on Wednesday in his apartment in Havířov, in the north east of the country. Another five cases of suspected methanol poisoning have been registered in the country over the last 24 hours, Health Minister Leoš Heger said. One man has been hospitalized in Písek, in southern Bohemia, the first case registered in the region. The authorities continue to collect and test samples of spirits; more than half of 57 spirits samples collected in the Moravian-Silesian regions tested positive for methanol.
The 20th season of the Czech hockey extraliga begins on Thursday with a match between last year’s runners-up Kometa Brno and newcomers Chomutov. Commentators see no apparent favourites of the season but expect Sparta Prague, Pardubice and Třinec to play for the title. The top hockey division has slightly changed the relegation system for the new season; two best teams from the second top league, instead of one, will this year play two worst extraliga teams for spots in the top division.
Six MPs of the ruling Civic Democrat party, who last week torpedoed the government’s plan to raise the VAT rates, said the rates should be kept on the current level next year. After a meeting with the head of the Civic Democrat deputies’ group, the MPs said the only alternative was to unify the VAT rates into a single rate. Their support will be crucial in a repeat vote on the government’s tax legislation which has been linked to a vote of confidence. Party leaders said they still hoped to find a compromise solution.
Police in north Moravia have arrested two men over the possession of bootleg liquor. The men, aged 46 and 47, were detained on Wednesday after inspectors found 400 litres of alcohol in various containers without duty stamps, a police spokeswoman said. The alcohol is now being tested for the presence of methanol. The police have also charged two people from Havířov and Zlín with offences related to the distribution of bootleg liquor.
The market prices of apartments continued to drop in the second quarter of 2012, according to figures by the Czech Statistical Office released on Thursday. The prices of older flats decreased by 5.7 percent while the prices of new apartments in Prague fell by 3.4 percent. Analysts say the continuing decrease in apartment prices is related to the construction of new housing projects.
The European Commission has refused to pay around one billion euros into four Czech operational programmes over errors in their administration, the news website aktualne.cz reported on Thursday. The subsidies have been cut for the Transport, Environment, Enterprise and Innovation programmes as well as for the Regional Operational Program South-West. The programmes will have to be subsidized from the state budget and the budget of two regional authorities. Government officials have refused to comment on the matter. The website reported that funding might also be cut for other Czech operational programmes.
The police in Zlín in eastern Moravia on Thursday discovered a warehouse with suspicious alcohol in bottles without tax stamps along with thousands of counterfeit labels. The proprietor of the warehouse had been arrested earlier. The warehouse was set up in a garage in the part of town where several people bought methanol-contaminated alcohol. The head of local police said however they had no evidence the man was the main distributor of bootleg liquor in the area.
Radek Štepánek will open against Juan Del Potro in the semifinal of the Davis Cup between the Czech Republic and Argetina in Buenos Aires on Friday. In Friday's second singles, Czech number one Tomáš Berdych will play Juan Monaco while on Saturday, the Czech Republic Ivo Minář and Lukáš Rosol will face Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank.
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