TOP 09’s regional committee has confirmed that Prague Mayor Tomáš Hudeček will remain atop the party’s candidate list in Prague in upcoming communal elections. Some members held the view Mr Hudeček should be removed from the list over the Opencard case, which is due to go to trial. Legal proceedings have been launched against 15 city councillors and two mayors, former and present, over the controversial data card which serves most commonly as a transit pass. The majority was in favour, of the mayor staying on. Second on the list is Mayor Hudeček’s deputy, Jiří Nouza; fourth is former hockey goalie Petr Bříza. The elections take place this autumn.
This Monday, June 23rd, marks 30 years that twenty Czechs and Slovaks were released by UNITA rebels in Angola, returning home after some 15 months in captivity. Those abducted in 1984 had to complete a march of more than 1,300 kilometers while in captivity. One of the hostages did not survive. Lubomír Sazeček, one of those held prisoner, spoke to the Czech News Agency on the occasion of the anniversary, saying he never gave up on Africa, but still held the rebels, who assumed power, responsible. In all, 66 Czechoslovak men, women and children were held hostage, but the 20 were the last released. The Czechs and Slovaks were in Angola in the 1980's to help resurrect and run the Angola Cellulose and Paper Company in the area of Alto Catumbela.
General Petr Pavel, the head of the General Staff of the Czech Armed Forces, met at the weekend in Afghanistan with the head of ISAF General Joseph Dunford who expressed the hope Czechs there would continue their work in the country even after NATO combat operations wrapped up. The aim is to help Afghan security forces in the new coming period, under a new mission to be called Resolute Support. Czech personnel staying on in Afghanistan would presumably serve at an American military hospital, train Afghan forces and help with security at the base at Bagram. General Pavel said the Czech Army was prepared to do its part; the mandate for the years 2015 and 2016 will, however, have to be approved in the Chamber of Deputies.
Hundreds of people, including members of the military and the Czech president, attended a ceremony on Sunday in Ležáky in the Chrudim area, to honour the memory of 52 people murdered there by the Nazis in 1942. The town was razed to the ground, following Lidice, as reprisal for the assassination of the 'Butcher of Prague’, Nazi governor Reinhard Heydrich. All of the adults were executed and 11 children sent to the Chełmno extermination camp where they were gassed. In a speech on Sunday to mark the 72 anniversary, the president expressed deep gratitude that Czech resistance fighters had fought for freedom with the utmost courage and sacrifice. Among those who attended the ceremony were two sisters, Jarmila and Marie Šťulíková, who are the sole survivors of the Ležáky massacre. After the war, the village of Ležáky was rebuilt with a memorial on the site of the original buildings which had been destroyed.
Leftist European leaders have agreed to back the nomination of former Luxembourg prime minister Jean-Claude Juncker to head the European Commission. The next head will succeed Jose Manuel Barroso. Speaking to the Czech News Agency after meeting with French President Francois Hollande and other leftist leaders in Paris, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the European Left, as he saw it, would expect visible posts in the next commission in return for its support and would seek the post of speaker of the European Parliament.
The Chamber of Deputies on Friday passed legislation which will make it more difficult to tow vehicles in No Parking zones or areas where motorists parked without a permit or paying. Under the amendment to the traffic law, police will first to have to apply a wheel clamp, commonly known as a Denver or parking boot, giving car owners 24 hours to respond. Vehicles will only be towed after that if owners failed to contact the police. The changes will effectively prevent MPs and senators from ever having their cars towed: under the law, police are not allowed to use parking boots on lawmakers’ vehicles. The bill will still have to be approved by the Senate.
An audit commissioned by the finance officer of ČVUT Jan Gazda has uncovered numerous dubious transactions by the Service Facilities Administration at the university. Czech daily Lidové noviny writes that between 2007 and 2011 there were dozens of legal transgressions, from overpriced purchases to machinations in public tenders to a failure to properly end contracts. The damages have been estimated in the tens of millions of crowns, says the paper. Police are conducting an investigation after the university filed charges against unknown perpetrators.
An arbitration court had not yet reached a final decision in the Blanka Tunnel case, in which the construction firm Metrostav and the City of Prague are at odds. The court did approve a list of items to be completed at the cost of 40 million crowns, Deputy Mayor Jiří Nouza told the Czech News Agency. An earlier court decision stated that Prague had to pay a remaining 4 billion crowns, while Metrostav had to complete the tunnel by September. No opening date for the tunnel has yet been set and will hinge on the installation of technology for the running of the entire complex.
A traffic accident on Friday afternoon saw marked delays on the D1 highway from Prague in the direction of Brno. The crash, involving two vehicles, was not serious but took place in an area undergoing reconstruction not far from the capital. Movement along the highway slowed to a crawl, with cars becoming backed up six kilometers. Traffic jams on the D1 have become a regular occurrence since an extensive and long-planned renovation of parts of the highway began. Motorists, especially on peak days, are advised to monitor the situation either over the internet or the airwaves, to try and avoid long delays.
Former justice minister Jiří Pospíšil has given up his post as an MP in the Czech Chamber of Deputies. Pospíšil, a former Civic Democrat who joined the centre-right party TOP 09, was one of four TOP 09 candidates in May elected to European Parliament. In all in the European elections, 21 MPs representing the Czech Republic were elected. Pospíšil is expected to be replaced by former Civic Democrat MP Vladislav Vilímec.
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