The District Court for Prague 2 has given 10 month conditional sentences to
three people, former culture minister Jiří Balvín, former deputy head of
Czech Radio Michal Koliandr, and businessman Jan Hnilička, suspected of
corruption in connection with the attempted sale of a chateau in Přerov
nad Labem belonging to Czech Radio. In addition, each has also been order
to pay a 240,000 crown fine.
The ruling reverses an earlier decision from April last year, in which the three were found not guilty based on insufficient evidence. Monday’s decision is not final; two of three defendants have already appealed, the Czech News Agency reported. As a consequence of the case, the planned tender on the sale of the chateau was cancelled by the broadcaster. The region of Central Bohemia expressed an interest in obtaining the property last year.
Six people in Prague died from extreme cold since last Thursday, even though shelters reportedly still had room and were not full to capacity. One of the victims, in Prague 4, is believed to have taken his life. Harsh night time conditions well below zero degrees Celsius have claimed lives not just in the Czech Republic but across Europe.
The unemployment rate in the Czech Republic grew slightly in December, rising to 5.2 percent from 4.9 percent the previous month. Officials from the Office of Labour said on Monday that the development was typical of the end of the year, when seasonal work ends, and that the figure was still the best recorded for December since 2008. The number of people out of work last month was just over 381,000.
A smog alert has been declared in the Zlín Region in southern Moravia. After double the permissible limit for airborne dust particles was recorded in half of the region’s weather stations people were advised to keep their windows closed, not overly exert themselves outdoors and keep car journeys to a minimum. The worst levels of pollution have been recorded in the Vsetín area.
The Czech biathlon star Gabriela Koukalová has come first in the mass start event at a Biathlon World Cup meeting in the German ski resort of Oberhof. Sunday’s win, in which Koukalová finished over 30 seconds ahead of her nearest rival, reinforces the 27-year-old’s hold on overall first place in the season-long race for the World Cup’s title, which she also won last year.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs should have the power to decide extradition cases, not the Ministry of Justice as at present, according to Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek. Speaking on a television discussion show on Sunday, the foreign policy chief made the comment in connection with the case of alleged Russian hacker Yevgeny Nikulin, who both the US and Russia are seeking. Mr. Zaorálek said making extradition a foreign policy matter was logical as it had an influence on relations with other states. Mr. Nikulin was arrested in Prague in October. He is wanted by the FBI in connection with a hack of LinkedIn in which the passwords of more than 100 million users of the professional networking service were compromised. Currently Czech courts rule on extradition, with their decisions then confirmed or rejected by the justice minister.
President Miloš Zeman says the fact Mikhail Gorbachev was in power, which meant the Soviets did not send in tanks in 1989, was a bigger factor in the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia than Charter 77. Speaking to the news site Blesk.cz on Sunday, Mr. Zeman said he did not sign Charter 77, a protest document launched in January 1977, because he hadn’t been asked to. When in spring 1989 he was presented with the petition Several Sentences he put his signature to it immediately, he said.
Former prime minister and Civic Democratic Party chairman Petr Nečas has returned to politics as an advisor to a new incarnation of the Civic Democratic Alliance funded by billionaire Pavel Sehnal, the news site Euro.cz reported. A former industry minister, Vladimír Dlouhý, is also serving as a consultant to the party. Mr. Nečas stepped down as PM in 2013 after his then mistress and now wife was arrested on suspicion of corruption. He himself was later charged with bribery.
The Czech authorities saw increased receipts in all forms of taxation last year. According to figures just released by central agency the Financial Administration and quoted by the Czech News Agency, value added tax receipts reached nearly CZK 350 billion in 2016, an increase of CZK 18 billion on the previous 12-month period. Income tax jumped by CZK 17 billion to CZK 164.7 billion. The tax authorities have also seen higher company tax and levies from lotteries.
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