Guilty verdicts have been delivered in a corruption trial linked to former health minister and regional governor David Rath. Nine people were found guilty by a court in Prague on Tuesday. Among them were Kateřina Kottová and her husband Petr Kott, who both got jail terms of 7.5 years, while they forfeited almost CZK 30 million found in cash at their home. Ivana Salačová, a businesswoman who turned state’s evidence, received a suspended sentence. The group had been on trial for a year and a half for corruption linked to a contract to renovate a chateau and procurements for a public hospital. Mr. Rath and one other defendant are being tried separately.
The US State Department has expressed “full confidence” in the country’s ambassador to Prague over a dispute with the Czech president. Miloš Zeman said ambassador Andrew Schapiro would not be welcome at his office after the latter said it would be unfortunate if Mr. Zeman were the only EU head of state to attend a military parade in Moscow in May given that Russian forces were illegally destabilising Ukraine. State Department spokesperson Marie Harf said on Monday the US understood countries wanted to recognise those who made sacrifices in WWII; however, this is not time for business as usual, she said. Mr. Zeman says it would be disrespectful not to attend ceremonies marking the end of the war and that no ambassador will tell him where he can and cannot visit.
Russia’s foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has praised Czech President Miloš Zeman’s handling of a dispute with the US ambassador to Prague, Andrew Schapiro. Mr. Zeman said at the weekend that the diplomat would not be welcome at Prague Castle after questioning whether the Czech head of state should attend a military parade in Moscow marking the end of WWII. Speaking to pro-Kremlin news agency Rossia Segodnya, Mr. Lavrov described Mr. Zeman as a person with his own dignity and pride. He dismissed Mr. Schapiro’s comments and accused the US of trying to curb all other countries’ relations with Russia.
Coalition partners the Christian Democrats say will not support President Miloš Zeman’s visit to Moscow next month if he attends a military parade in the city. Party leader Pavel Bělobrádek said if such an event were included on the official itinerary of festivities linked to the 70th anniversary of the end of WWII then Christian Democrat ministers would vote against the president’s trip at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday. Mr. Zeman’s spokesman said it was not yet clear whether the head of state would be attending a military parade. TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek had earlier tried unsuccessfully to have the matter included on the agenda of a lower house session.
The funeral has taken place of the great Czech cinematographer Miroslav Ondříček, who died recently at the age of 80. Among the mourners were several leading Czech actors and film professionals, including director Ivan Passer, for whom Ondříček shot the Czech New Wave classic Intimate Lighting. Helmer Miloš Forman, with whom the cinematographer worked on such movies as The Firemen’s Ball, Taking Off and Amadeus was unable to attend but sent an audio-recording to be played at Tuesday’s service at the Church of Saints Petr and Pavel at Prague’s Vyšehrad. Players from Ondříček’s beloved Slavia Prague football club also paid their respects.
Prague councillors are set to discuss the future of mayor Adriana Krnáčová at a special session next Tuesday. The opposition TOP 09 and Civic Democrats are pushing for the removal of the ANO politician, who they accuse of acting illegally by selecting a lawyer in a property dispute on the recommendation of the city’s opponents in the case. However, the opposition would not have the votes to topple her on their own and Ms. Krnáčová has the backing of ANO, the Social Democrats and the Three-Coalition, which together rule the city.
A former nurse charged with the murder of six patients at a hospital in Rumburk, north Bohemia, carried out the killings in order to lighten her workload, according to the indictment in her trial. Věra Marešová, who is 50, is accused of administering deadly doses of potassium to five women and one man between 2010 and last year, when she was arrested after what was initially reported as a case of mercy killing of a terminally ill elderly patient. The Czech News Agency reported that court experts had ruled that the ex-nurse was not insane. She faces a life prison sentence if found guilty.
Firefighters were called during the early hours of Tuesday morning to fight a blaze in a boarding-house in Ostrov in the region of Karlovy Vary. One of the apartments in the building was completely destroyed and rescuers helped parents on the higher floors, who had been prepared to leap from the windows with children in their arms, to safety. Twenty-four people including six children were rescued while an additional 30 people were evacuated from the premises. There were no serious injuries or casualties. The fire was put out in an hour and the cause of the fire is under investigation.
Czech hockey legend Jaromír Jágr, who is reportedly returning to the Czech Republic for time-off following the end of the regular season, will train with the national team ahead of the upcoming Ice Hockey World Championships which start in Prague and Ostrava at the beginning of May. It is not clear whether he will play in the actual championship, saying much depended on his current form. According to the Czech News Agency, he made no commitment but said he would sit down for a meeting with the team’s coach, former player Vladimír Růžička to discuss matters. Last year, Jágr said he would not play for the national squad again but given the Florida Panthers failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs, fans are hopeful the forward will not pass on a chance to play in a 'final' championship at home.
Třinec booked a trip to the Extraliga playoff final against Litvínov on Monday evening after defeating Sparta 3:2 to clinch the best-of-seven series 4:2. Zbyněk Irgl scored his second game-winning goal in a row to seal Sparta’s fate.
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