Former Social Democratic Party deputy Petr Wolf, who has been on the run
since 2013, when he was convicted of subsidy fraud, is hiding in Paraguay,
Czech Television reported citing police sources.
The police reportedly lost trace of him in Paraguay. Although an international arrest warrant has been issued on him, Wolf has so far avoided detention.
The million crown fine meted out by the court was paid in instalments from different destinations, even while the former MP was on the run.
President Miloš Zeman has signed into law a controversial proposal to tax
money paid to religious groups in compensation for property seized under
The tax is due to take effect on January 1, 2020. But the Constitutional Court may well strike it down before the first tax payment come due the following year.
In late April, MPs overrode a veto by the Senate to tax the restitution income of 16 Czech churches and a Jewish federation which had their property seized by the former Communist regime.
Critics say the law, proposed by the Communists, is unconstitutional and unethical. The religious institutions had been awarded money in cases where the confiscated property could not be returned to its rightful owners.
The Senate has moved to scrap a law according to which large retail outlets
must remain closed on selected public holidays. The proposal was included
in an amendment to the law which will now go back to the Chamber of
The lower house previously rejected a similar proposal including a proposal for the ban to be extended to all public holidays. The law, which went into force in 2016 bans outlets bigger than 200 square metres from selling goods on eight public holidays of the year, among the October 28, Christmas, Easter Monday and May 8.
It is still vehemently opposed by the Czech Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Trade and Tourism which says it discriminates large sales outlets.
The head of the Czech Business and Trade Association Marta Nováková says large retail stores lose billions of crowns in profits on each public holiday on which they are forced to close their doors.
President Miloš Zeman has signed legislation enabling the state to tax
church restitutions, according to an official press release from Prague
Castle. Communist deputies say the highly controversial law, which had to
go through a second vote in the Chamber of Deputies in late April after it
was vetoed in the upper-house, could retain CZK 380 million from the annual
CZK 2 billion pay-outs the state has pledged to undertake until 2030.
Opposition parties including the Mayors and Independents and the Christian Democrats are planning to issue a complaint to the Constitutional Court, which they hope will invalidate the legislation.
A group of senators from the Liberal Democratic Caucus – Senator 21 have
completed a constitutional complaint against President Miloš Zeman for
alleged gross violations of the Constitution.
“The aim of the complaint is not to remove the current president from his post but to determine the boundaries of the execution of his mandate,” Senator 21 club’s head, Václav Láska, told the Czech News Agency.
To lodge a complaint to the Constitutional Court, its initiators would need to secure the backing of at least another 21 Senators and 120 deputies of the Lower Chamber of the Parliament.
A controversial proposal to tax money paid to religious groups in compensation for property seized under Communism is a step closer to becoming law. In their first session since the Easter holiday, MPs on Tuesday overrode a veto by the Senate to tax the restitution income of 16 Czech churches and a Jewish federation.
The taxation of financial compensation paid to churches in lieu of
properties not returned in restitution could have dire consequences for
faith groups, religious leaders have said. In a statement on Wednesday, the
chairs of the Czech Bishops’ Conference, the Ecumenical Council of
Churches and the Federation of Jewish Communities said the move could cause
churches serious financial problems or even result in their demise.
The church leaders said the bill mandating such taxation was immoral and unconstitutional.
MPs on Tuesday overrode a Senate veto on the legislation. A tax on compensation was a condition of the Communists for supporting a minority cabinet of ANO and the Social Democrats.
Police investigators have proposed pressing charges against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and several members of his family over suspicions that he and his associates illegally tapped into a 50 million crown EU subsidy ten years ago. If the prime minister stands trial and is found guilty he could face a jail sentence of between five and ten years.
The Czech Ministry of the Interior has reduced by over one-quarter its funding for non-governmental organisations focused on preventing corruption. The money has been diverted into an anti-drink driving campaign – despite a previous government pledge to allocate more funds to anti-graft groups. I discussed the news with David Ondráčka, head of the Czech branch of watchdog group Transparency International.
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Wednesday announced the details of a planned cabinet reshuffle. Trade and Industry Minister Marta Nováková will be leaving her post at the end of the month, together with Transport Minister Dan Ťok, who is leaving office at his own request following fierce criticism from opposition deputies. I asked political analyst Jiří Pehe about the timing of the reshuffle and the reasons behind it.
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