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17-08-2015

Head of Litoměřice prison arrested over alleged corruption

The General Inspection of Security Forces announced on Monday the arrest of the head of Litoměřice Prison, Tomáš Líbal, calling it the most serious corruption case related to the Czech Prison Service in 25 years. Mr Líbal allegedly tried to blackmail and also bribe the current head of the Prison Service, Pavel Ondrášek, who was appointed in 2014. Justice Minister Robert Pelikán told the Czech News Agency he expected the investigation to be resolved as quickly as possible.

Supreme Audit Office says metro extension project could not be properly audited

Representatives of the Supreme Audit Office are pushing for broader powers for the bureau, saying an audit of a recent construction project extending Prague’s A metro line could not be properly conducted. Jana Gabrielová of the office’s communication department told the Czech News Agency on Monday the office has been unable to check how most of 27.1 billion crowns were spent (noting the project increased from an original 22.6 billion). Some of the cost was covered by European funds, but the EU subsidy had not yet been paid when the audit was being conducted. The head of the Supreme Audit Office, Miloslav Kala, called it “incredible” that such a large amount of public money was not subject to external control. At the end of June, the government´s Legislative Council approved a draft amendment to the law aiming to extend the bureau’s powers.

Country’s scientists launch petition to combat message of intolerance

Some 400 scientists and members of research and academic institutions have signed a petition to try and combat what is perceived as growing xenophobia in Czech society. Entitled Scientists against Fear and Apathy, the petition is aiming to counter the anti-migrant message being pushed by a number of organised groups and fringe politicians. A number of mostly extra-parliamentary political parties in recent months have tried to build increasingly on anti-migrant and anti-Muslim platforms. Those behind the petition say that fear over the issue of migration faced by Europe has been whipped up into hysteria.

Czech Energy Regulatory Office head accused of abuse of power

The police anti-corruption unit on Monday charged the chairwoman of the Czech Energy Regulatory Office (ERU), Alena Vitásková with abuse of power and breach of trust over the appointment of the former supreme state attorney, Renata Vesecká, as the office’s deputy head, police spokesman Jaroslav Ibehej confirmed. According to the police, Vitásková violated energy legislation and caused damages of at least one million crowns in appointing Vesecká to the then newly-established post. Damages are related to the salary and obligatory health and social insurance payments made by the employer. Ms Vitásková appointed Vesecka as ERU deputy head in November of 2014.

Animal rights activists protest against fur farming before Agriculture Ministry

Animal rights activists have staged a protest before the Agriculture Ministry in Prague to draw attention to the plight of animals farmed for their fur. Activists set up a cage before the ministry, in which members will sit or stand for eight hour shifts. The protest event will wrap up on Friday this week. At the weekend, an additional demonstration is to take place on Wenceslas Square. Activists charge that there are 11 fur farms in the Czech Republic breeding foxes, mink and chinchillas, allegedly in poor conditions. Animal numbers are reportedly not recorded but the animal rights group OBRAZ estimates that some 10,000 – 13,000 specimens are killed annually.

Proceedings halted against 87-year-old charged for role in forced collectivization

A Prague court has halted legal proceedings against 87-year-old Tomáš Lipták, charged early this year with abuse of power for his role in the forced collectivisation of property from private farmers in communist Czechoslovakia – 62 years after the crime was allegedly committed. The Czech News Agency learned that proceedings were halted through the justice system database; the information was also confirmed by the court’s spokesman. The decision is not binding. The prosecution, once it gets official word, can file a complaint.

Malostranské náměstí to undergo radical transformation

A group of architects are working on the transformation of Malostranské náměstí, or Lesser Town Square, just off the Vltava River. The plans involve a more unified structure, fewer parking spaces and a fountain and sculpture as a centerpiece, the ctk news agency reports citing Prague deputy mayor Matěj Stropnický. Prague City Hall called an open competition for the transformation of the square at the end of last year under pressure from the public. Over 5,000 people signed a petition calling for action and complaining that Malostranské náměstí was fast turning into a huge parking lot.

First young wine appears on the market

The first young wine, known as burčák, has appeared on the market several weeks earlier than usual due to the hot summer. It is made from Irsai Oliver grapes which traditionally ripen sooner, and comes from the Valtice wine-growing district in Moravia. The young fermenting wine is high on sugar and low on alcohol. It takes about five days to make and its sales traditionally mark the start of wine-harvesting celebrations around the country.

Football: Čech rebounds from nightmare opener

Goalkeeper Petr Čech secured his first regular season win with new club Arsenal on Sunday – rebounding from a nightmare start in the Gunners’ opener last week. Arsenal held off a surging Crystal Palace for a 2:1 win, with Čech stopping a late header by Ward. He was not faulted for Crystal Palace’s lone strike in the match, also by Ward, deemed unstoppable. In the season opener against West Ham last weekend, Čech twice misjudged the situation leading to two goals.

Heavy rainfall to last until Wednesday, say meteorologists

Experts at the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute have warned that heavy rainfall will continue across the Czech Republic until Wednesday. The sudden rain, coming after a tropical heatwave lasted for weeks in the country, could see smaller streams overflow and water levels rise on larger rivers, even leading to flood warnings in areas. Only recently, water levels on most rivers and local ponds had dropped drastically following daily highs of well over 30 degrees Celsius.

17-08-2015