Charges against 31 people involved in last year’s methanol scandal will be raised in the autumn, a prosecutor in Zlín told the Czech news agency ČTK on Sunday. The accused face charges of manufacturing and distributing methanol-laced bootleg liquor which killed over 40 people, mainly in the north-east of the country; seven of the accused face charges of intentionally endangering public safety, a crime which carries up to 20 years in prison. Three people are awaiting the trial in custody.
In total, 137 people died in road accidents in July and August, which was seven victims fewer than last year and the lowest number of road deaths since 1990. In August, 63 people were killed on Czech roads, which was 11 people fewer than in the same month last year. The police have asked drivers to exercise extra caution over the last weekend of the summer holidays when traffic is expected to be dense as holidaymakers are returning home.
The police have moved against squatters who on Saturday occupied a derelict building in Pohořelec, near Prague Castle. A unit of the riot police with dogs removed the occupants while 27 people have been detained, the news agency ČTK reported. Several dozen people gathered outside the building and protested against the police action. Squatters occupied several unmaintained buildings in the capital on Saturday to highlight the issues of dilapidating historical heritage and the unavailability of low-cost housing. They said they would vacate all of them before the end of the day but remained in one that is located in a popular tourist area in the vicinity of Prague Castle. A spokesman for the squatters said they wanted to reach agreement with the owner of the structure; however, the proprietors asked the police for assistance.
A record attendance of 16,000 spectators saw an open-air performance of Bedřich Smetana’s opera The Bartered Bride in Prague on Sunday. The opera was staged in an amphitheatre located in a valley on the outskirts of the capital; the event’s tradition goes back to 1913, and was revived eight years ago.
President Zeman on Sunday said he was planning to nominate Radovan Suchánek for the post of a Constitutional Court judge. Mr Suchánek is a professor of constitutional law at Prague’s Charles University, and works as a legal advisor to the Social Democrat party. Mr Zeman said he would nominate the candidate provided the court’s chairman, Pavel Rychteský, raises no objections. The nomination must be approved by the Senate which last month rejected another candidate, Jan Sváček. The Czech Constitutional Court is currently functioning with 14 instead of 15 judges stipulated by the Constitution. The mandates of another two judges will expire later this year.
President Miloš Zeman will set out on a tour of Czech regions next week, starting in the eastern Zlín region where he is scheduled to spend three days. A week later, Mr Zeman is set to visit the Pardubice region, followed by southern Moravia by the end of September. However, the president’s plans have come under criticism over his involvement in the election campaign. Mr Zeman’s former party, the SPOZ, has fared best in the Pardubice and Zlín region where the president’s chief of staff, Vratislav Mynář, will head the party’s ballot in the upcoming early general election. Mr Zeman said he did support the party but would not participate in its campaigning.
Actor and dubbing artist Jiří Tomek has died at the age of 82 in Brno. Mr. Tomek is known as the Czech voice of Peter Sellers and received the František Filipovský award for lifelong mastery of dubbing in 1998. He began acting in the Theater of Brothers Mrštiky in the mid-1950s and mostly had comedic roles. He also received around 60 minor roles in film and television productions. In 1995, Mr. Tomek was one of the first two people to place their hand prints on commemorative plaques as part of the boardwalk of fame in front of Brno’s Municipal Theater.
Czechs voting abroad will be choosing from candidates running in the Central Bohemian region in the upcoming general elections in October, according to a random draw carried out by the State Election Committee on Friday. The committee selects the region in which Czech citizens who do not have permanent residency in this country will be voting before every parliamentary election. In both of the last general elections – in 2006 and 2010 – the random draw fell on the South Bohemian region. The Interior Ministry has slated more than 400 million crowns for organizing the election on October 25 and 26.
The prosecution in the corruption case against the former Central Bohemian governor David Rath has introduced as evidence a new video on Friday that shows the details of Mr. Rath’s arrest and disproves a number of statements that the defense has made. Unlike the first video that was shown during hearings, this one was taken from a different angle by a camera on a policeman’s uniform and clearly shows the whereabouts of the defendant and the fact that the box, which contained the alleged bribe, was never out of the defendant’s sight. Mr. Rath has claimed from the beginning that he thought that the box contained a bottle of wine from his co-defendant Kateřina Pancová, and that during his arrest the money was placed inside by the police, while he was being taken aside. Mr. Rath and 10 other defendants have been charged with bribe-taking and manipulating public tenders and may face up to 12 years in prison if found guilty.
Zuzana Hejnová won the 400m hurdles race at the IAAF Diamond League final race in Zurich on Thursday crossing the line at 53.32 seconds. Jamaica's Kaliese Spencer was second in 54.22 seconds and Denisa Rosolova also from the Czech Republic was third in 54.99 seconds. Hejnová thus completed a hugely successful year in which she won all of the 11 races she competed in, breaking the Czech record she had set three times in a row. The present Czech record for 400m hurdles with which she bagged the gold at the World Championships in Moscow is 52.83 seconds.
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