Police have filed a charge of breach of trust against 10 of a total of 11 Prague councillors in connection with the Opencard, a card-based electronic system used for public transport and other services. Among the 10 is the mayor of the city, Bohuslav Svoboda of the Civic Democrats. Officers delivered the indictment to a meeting of the council on Tuesday morning. The charge concerns the awarding of a contract to operate the system to the company Haguess, the only name considered in a closed tender process. The controversial Opencard system was previously found to have been massively overpriced.
Tomáš Berdych has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters in Florida. The Czech men’s tennis number one had a lot of work to do to get past Alejandro Falla on Tuesday in a match lasting two and a half hours; Berdych went behind to the Colombian after losing the first set 2-6, but rallied to take the next two sets 7-6 and 6-4. The last remaining Czech in the women’s draw, Klára Zakopalová, exited the tournament after a 2-6 2-6 fourth-round defeat to Maria Sharapova of Russia.
A three-day disaster training exercise has got underway at the Dukovany nuclear power station in south Moravia. The drill, entitled Zone 2013, is intended to test emergency procedures and the preparedness of personnel by simulating the leak of radiation from the plant. The exercise involves over 1,500 people and around 100 pieces of equipment.
President Miloš Zeman has announced the names of four lawyers he plans to nominate to the Constitutional Court. Speaking on a visit to the country’s highest court in Brno on Tuesday, Mr. Zeman said he would ask the Senate to approve the candidates Milada Tomková, who is a judge at the Supreme Administrative Court, and law professors Jaroslav Fenyk, Vladimír Sládeček and Jan Filip. The president said he had discussed the names with the chief justice, Pavel Rychetský. He also said he wished to see next parliamentary elections take place on the same day as elections to the European Parliament in May next year.
After meeting with President Miloš Zeman on Monday, representatives of the Bohemian-Moravia Confederation of Trade Unions have agreed to lower their demands on raising the minimum wage. Although the union representatives were previously asking to bring the minimum monthly wage up from eight to nine thousand crowns, President Zeman convinced them to agree to a hike of 500 crowns. The decision on the issue, though, depends primarily on the government and parliament. Mr Zeman and the head of the confederation, Jaroslav Zavadil, have good relations, and the new president agreed to help broker better ties between the government and unions.
The ministry-run organization CERMAT has placed practice versions of the new state high school leaving exam online to give students a chance to practice before they take the real one in the first week of May. After last year’s highly criticised and problematic launch of the unified state exam system, the Education Ministry decided to simplify the structure of the exams and have one level instead of two. Most students have to pass a Czech language exam, and then have a choice of either doing a foreign-language or mathematics examination. This year, out of the 98,082 students registered to take the state exams, 60% chose the foreign language test as their additional exam.
The Health Minister Leoš Heger is planning to add a proposal to relieve children of hospital stay fees to an amendment package he will present to the government in the next few weeks. The minister is hoping to either lower the fees, which are currently 100 crowns per day, or get rid of them altogether. The Association of Hospitals agrees with the move saying that that this way children will be able to remain in hospital for as long as necessary and their treatment will not depend as much on the family’s financial situation.
The anti-corruption police have carried out raids against tax evaders in various parts of the country throughout Monday. So far, the police arrested 19 people, 13 of whom were already charged with evading taxes in sales of electronics. Total damages are calculated to be in the range of hundreds of millions of crowns.
A new poll carried out by the Academy of Science’s Public Opinion Research Center (CVVM) has shown that 89% of Czechs are not happy with the work of the current government, while 82% are unhappy specifically with Prime Minister Petr Nečas. This is another tough blow for Mr Nečas, whose party, the Civic Democrats, have fallen drastically in the polls in the past few months, getting weaker voter preferences than the Communist Party last week. The CVVM poll also revealed that 70% of people are unsatisfied with the platform of the current government, all pointing to the fact that this is the least popular cabinet since 1998.
A court in the German city of Koblenz handed down four-and-a-half-year jail sentences to a German couple who kidnapped a Czech girl in the north Bohemian town Trmice when she was a few weeks old. The 48-year old woman and a 51-year old man were found guilty of kidnapping, car theft and counterfeiting documents. Both appealed their verdict upon sentencing. The woman, with the help of her partner, kidnapped the girl named Michalka last July from her pram. The police found the newborn a few days later.
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