The Czech Republic has won an international arbitration against the firm Diag Human, Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček said. The company took the country to arbitration in 2008 over its allegedly thwarted blood plasma business int eh coutnry. The Czech Republic was originally ordered to pay eight billion crowns in compensation to the firm but the Czech government appealed the decision and the final ruling, delivered to both parties last week, awards victory to the Czech Republic, according to the Health Ministry. However, the firm disputes the minitry's claims, arguing the ruling in fact confirmed the original verdict. The Health Ministry said it would release details on the case next week.
The Czech police tapped the phones of two journalists as part of their investigation of the 2009 purchase of the Austrian-made Pandur armoured vehicles for the Czech military, the daily Právo reported on Saturday. The investigators tapped the phones of reporters for the newspapers Právo and Mladá fronta Dnes in 2011 in an effort to determine the origin of leaked documents in the case, the daily said. The police, which acted with the consent of the court, also tapped the phones of several top police officers and prosecutors, according to the report. The Czech army in 2009 bought 107 Pandur APCs for 14.4 billion crowns. Marek Dalík, a former aide to then prime minister Mirek Topolánek, faces criminal charges over allegedly demanding a bribe from the producer of the vehicles.
The head of the ANO movement, Andrej Babiš, vented disgust in the media on Friday over the recent behavior of some in the lower house, saying he would prefer to resign as an MP if he had a capable successor. The finance minister was reacting to the handling of a fuel tax reduction bill for farmers on Wednesday, which was modified by a fellow coalition MP and former minister for industry and trade to be across the board. The bill, which initially passed but was subjected to a new vote on Friday following a complaint, would have thrown a spanner in government plans. The opposition Civic Democrats say they will petition the Constitutional Court over the matter.
Milan Komárek will step down as the head of the country’s anti-corruption and financial crime unit on July 31st, his superior, Police President Tomáš Tuhý, told reporters Friday. Komárek took over as head of the unit last June and oversaw the founding of team Kobra, targeting tax crimes. Before, he had worked as a regional deputy chief of police in Central Bohemia. Police President Tuhý said he respected Komárek’s contribution and made clear the unit head was stepping down for personal reasons. The job will be filled in the interim by deputy head Jaroslav Vild. A successor should be found by the autumn.
The Chamber of Deputies on Friday voted anew on a bill aimed at lowering the excise duty on fuel. This time MPs voted down the proposal, which first passed in the lower house on Wednesday - to the surprise of the ruling coalition. One of its members had inserted changes into the bill that lowered the tax on petrol and diesel across the board rather than just for farmers, which would have negatively impacted the state budget. After another coalition MP on Wednesday, however, challenged the result, arguing his vote had been incorrectly recorded by the electronic system, a new vote was scheduled. The centre-right opposition, which had threatened to petition the Constitutional Court if a new vote was held, walked out of the chamber.
The senior coalition Social Democrats have suffered an embarrassing setback in the lower house after a group of their MPs on Wednesday joined the opposition to pass a bill lowering fuel tax. The move, which casts doubt on the Social Democrats’ unity, has raised the ire of coalition leaders over its massive impact on the state budget. However, coalition MPs have bent the rules of parliamentary procedure to schedule a new vote on the bill.
Ongoing problems with the restitution of church property will be resolved by a government committee prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka told the lower house of parliament on Thursday. Sobotka intervened in a debate over the controversial subject called jointly by the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia and the Dawn party. The prime minister attacked the deal to compensate churches and religious group for confiscations undertaken by the former Communist regime, saying that mechanism were lacking to check that property was not given back which religious groups had not owned in the first place. Sobotka’s Social Democrat party has attempted to reopen the restitution settlement agreed by the former centre-right coalition government without success.
The Czech daily Mláda Fronta Dnes reported Wednesday how two men convicted of wiretapping top state figures received conditional sentences and the identity of those who ordered the spying was never revealed. Former policeman Marian Hudec received a conditional jail sentence of 26 months suspended for four years and Michal Kondla 20 months suspended for three years. The two were convicted tapping the phone calls of Constitutional Court chairman Pavel Rychetský and close aides to the then president Václav Klaus. The tapping took place ahead of parliamentary elections in 2010. The paper said it established links to the security firm ABL, owned by former Public Affairs party leader Vít Bárta. The company has denied any wrongdoing.
The Czech government has approved extending a freeze on the wages of top public officials up until 2018. The proposal, put forward by the Labour Ministry, would see the wages of the president, government ministers, senators, deputies and judges kept on their present level for another four years after a previous freeze expires at the end of 2014. The only exemption is a one percent valorisation due to inflation. The proposal, which still has to pass through Parliament, would affect some 4,000 people.
Retired footballing legend Antonín Panenka, the scorer of a famous chip during penalties in the final versus West Germany in the European Championships in 1976, is planning on entering politics with a senatorial run, according to news website iDNES. According to the website, Panenka is likely to be nominated leader of a movement called Independents for Prague 10 ahead of elections to the Senate this autumn. He would run to fill a seat formerly held by Jaromír Štetina, who was elected to the European Parliament in May, for a shortened mandate of two years. An announcement by the former international is expected next week.
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