A judge at the High Court in Prague and four other suspects have been
indicted over alleged bribery in attempts to influence rulings.
If found guilty judge Ivan Elischer faces up to 12 years in prison for bribery, abuse of power and extending preferential treatment. The 58-year-old magistrate has been at the court since 2013 and specialises in serious drug cases.
According to the news agency ČTK, the other defendants are of Vietnamese origin, including an acquaintance of the judge, Hung Quoc Nguyen. Mr Elischer was arrested by the police’s national organised crime unit in a raid last March.
MPs are set to vote again this week in favour of a proposal to tax
financial compensation awarded to churches in lieu of property that could
not be returned in restitution.
The Senate had rejected the Communist-drafted proposal, arguing it was unconstitutional and unjust to tax money paid in compensation for properties confiscated by the former regime.
The Communists have conditioned their tolerance of the minority government comprised of the ANO and Social Democrat parties on the proposal passing.
They estimate the Czech state stands to recover about 380 million crowns annually from the roughly 2 billion crowns it now transfers to 16 churches and a Jewish federation under bilateral agreements.
Police from the country’s organised crime unit on Thursday raided the
Prague headquarters of the Austrian firm Kapsch. The police also searched
the office of ANO deputy chair Jaroslav Faltýnek, the headquarters of the
anti-trust office in Brno and several dozen other institutions around the
According to the website Novinky.cz, police suspect Kapsch’s CEO Karel Feix and the head of the anti-trust office Petr Rafaj of corruption. They are suspected of having tried to influence a contract to operate the electronic toll collection system in the Czech Republic, Novinky.cz reported.
The Austrian Kapsch AG, which has been operating the electronic toll collection system in the Czech Republic since 2007, is set to be replaced by the consortium SkyToll / Czechtoll this year.
According to the Council of Europe’s anti-corruption body GRECO (Group of
States against Corruption) the Czech Republic has not fully complied with
any of the agency’s last 14 recommendations with regard to fighting
corruption in politics and the judiciary.
In its latest compliance report on the Czech Republic, GRECO says that only around half of the recommended measures have been implemented in some degree and urges the authorities to rectify matters by June 30th of this year.
Among the recommendations made were moves aimed at securing greater transparency as regards the activities of parliamentary committees and individual members of Parliament, making available information regarding meetings with lobby groups, setting down rules about gifts received and so on.
A Communist Party bill aiming to tax church restitutions hit the rocks in the Senate on Wednesday where the vast majority of senators rejected it as “unconstitutional“. The bill was rejected not just by the opposition parties but by nine senators from the ruling ANO and Social Democratic Party which helped to push it through the lower house.
The Senate has voted against the Communist party proposal to tax
restitutions paid out by the state to various religious organisations
including the Catholic Church and the Czech Jewish Community. Aside from
the opposition, the senators who voted against the bill also included the
Social Democrats, a junior partner in Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s
government. The proposal will now return to the Chamber of Deputies, which
can by-pass the Senate if it votes in favour of the bill again. However,
the opposition says it will bring the issue to the Constitutional Court if
Aside from returning property, the current restitution law passed enacted in 2013 counts on paying church organisations CZK 59 billion crowns divided into annual payments over a period of 30 years. The proposed restitution bill would tax these pay-outs reducing the total payment to CZK 48 billion.
The ANO party of the ruling coalition would win general elections, if they
were held today, according to a survey conducted by the CVVM agency.
ANO would get 30 percent of the vote, followed by the opposition Pirate Party and the Civic Democrats which would both get 15 percent.
The Social Democrats would come fourth with 11 percent, just ahead of the Communist Party which would get 10 percent.
The only other parties which stand a chance of crossing the five percent threshold needed to win seats in the lower house are the Christian Democrats, the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party and the Mayors and Independents.
A former minister of regional development, Rostislav Vondruška, has
received a suspended sentence for corruption. On Tuesday the Prague 2
District Court found him guilty of using gift vouchers paid for by the
CzechTourism agency – which he then headed – for his own private
purposes. He also gave them to friends.
Mr. Vondruška, who served in a caretaker government nine years ago, was also ordered to pay almost CZK 150,000 in compensation.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has been re-elected chairman of the ANO party that he founded seven years ago, running unopposed at the party’s congress on Sunday. Polls show Mr. Babiš remains the most popular, trusted politician in parliament, and ANO would win general elections if held today. So, what direction is he looking to take the party – and the country?
A group of Czech senators recently accused President Miloš Zeman of gross violation of the Constitution and began drafting an official bill of impeachment. However, the chances of the liberal Senator 21 group finding the support to force out the head of state seem extremely slim. But why is it so hard to remove a Czech president?
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