Police have officially opened criminal proceedings in a corruption case involving a multimillion-crown arms order at the Ministry of Defence, the Supreme Public Prosecutor Renata Vesecká told television Prima on Sunday. According to the spokesman for the anti-corruption branch of the police force, detectives officially opened the case on Thursday, the day after the daily Mladá fronta dnes described a plot by a deputy defence minister to take millions in kickbacks on an order of mortars. The paper reported that it followed Jaroslav Kopřiva and a lobbyist for six months as they planned to frame the order as a joint purchase with the Slovak government, helping them bypass a public tender and winning it for the Finnish company Patria. The paper later presented its evidence to the Minister of Defence with Kopřiva being sacked on the spot.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister and chairman of the Public Affairs party, Radek John, has told Czech Television he wants the Supreme Public Prosecutor removed from her post before autumn elections. Mr John and his party accuse Ms Vesecká of impeding the investigation of various cases of corruption and said her replacement would be a clear signal that the government intends to fight corruption. He added that his party does not want to be in a government that is not based on combating corruption. Minister of Justice Jiří Pospíšil responded to the statement, saying he had already discussed the situation with Mr John’s party, and criticised him for going to the media with an issue already being actively resolved within the government. According to the Justice Minister, the Czech Republic’s representative to Eurojust, Pavel Zeman, has already been chosen for the position and the situation should be clear within a fortnight.
The Czech government’s representative for human rights, Michael Kocáb, has said he will leave the post once he has someone to replace him. On Wednesday he is to meet with the Prime Minister’s advisor on human rights, Roman Joch, who has publicly said that the position of human rights representative was redundant. Last week, the Prime Minister said he had accepted Michael Kocáb’s resignation and thanked him for his work in the field of human rights; later that evening however Mr Kocáb said that the prime minister had pushed him to resign and that he had refused. Mr Kocáb, formerly a rock musician, also served as the Human Rights Minister in the previous cabinet.
A survey conducted by the polling agency SANEP suggests that nearly two-thirds of Czechs support a proposal by the Ministry of Transport to base fines for driving violations on the personal wealth of the driver. According to SANEP, the proposal put forward by Minister Vít Bárta last week had the support of 62% of respondents. Four-fifths of respondents said they believe that the current maximum fines are not a burden on wealthier drivers, who they also believe are more prone to violating the rules of the road – a view shared by the traffic police. Some 49% were not bothered by the possibility of police determining the personal wealth of traffic offenders – an idea opposed by 41% of the respondents. Prime Minister Petr Nečas is strongly opposed to the proposal.
A state of emergency following last month’s flash floods in the region of Liberec ends at midnight Sunday night. Record levels of rainfall left 79 communities in the region severely inundated. Five people were killed and damages have been calculated at 5.4 billion crowns and rising. Most of the material damages have now been eliminated, most of the roads in the region are open again and the army has built a number of temporary bridges; seven bridges were destroyed in the flooding while another 112 were damaged.
The number of Czechs who prefer being employed has risen over the last six years from 55 to 62%, according to information gathered from the Gallop Organisation at the end of in 2009 and published now by the magazine Komora.cz. The percentage of people who prefer being self-employed has also risen by two percentage points to 32%. In terms of preference for self-employment the Czech Republic is thus near the bottom of scale in the EU in 24th place, followed only by Denmark, Belgium and Slovakia. 45% of EU citizens prefer self-employment on average while 49% choose employment.
Dozens of monuments and museums in Prague that are normally not open to the public will be made available for the annual European Heritage Days between September 11 and 19, some for the entire week and some for the weekend. Some of the venues include the 18th century townhouse U Bílého lva at Prague Castle, the presidential salons at the train stations Hlavní nádraží and Masarykovo, and the Buquoyský Palace where the French Embassy is located. Technical monuments will also be opened, such as the 1932 gas container at Libeň, a watermill at Troja and a forge in Kozí St in Old Town. The event is organised by the Association of Historical Settlements in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia.
This year‘s CIAF international aviation festival in the city of Hradec Králové was visited by more than 50,000 people according to organisers. The event is the largest exhibition of military aviation technology in the Czech Republic; planes of all categories were on display, from transporters to turboprops and jets from 14 countries. Altogether some 100 vehicles and machines were on site. The show was the first in Hradec Králové since the festival relocated temporarily to Brno after 2002.
A monument to the two characters of the renowned 1960s animated series “Pojďte pane, budeme si hrát” was unveiled in the town of Kolín on Sunday, where the two bears met one day according to the story. Hundreds of people attended the unveiling of two stones symbolising the two figures, including their creator, puppeteer and filmmaker Břetislav Pojar and Oscar-winner director Jan Svěrák, whose own movie about a stuffed bear, Kuky, is currently in cinemas.
Cyclist Roman Kreuziger took second place on Sunday in the 9th stage of the Vuelta a España, the same result as he achieved in the tour last year. The Czech racer was bested on the 187-km track only by Spaniard David López, who was six seconds ahead of 24-year-old Kreuziger into the destination city of Alcoy.
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