The daily Právo writes that Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil is receiving heavy criticism from his party’s leadership, some of whom have reportedly demanded his resignation. Citing anonymous participants of a meeting of the top Civic Democrat leadership on Thursday, the paper writes that Mr Pospíšil was attacked from all sides regarding his designation of the head of the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office in Prague. The justice minister dismissed the previous head, Vlastimil Rampula, last November, and replaced him with Stanislav Mečl. A criminal complaint was reportedly filed against the justice minister this week on the grounds that the head of the Supreme State Prosecutor’s Office must be appointed to the post, which Mečl was not. Mr Rampula has since received a court verdict that he be reinstated. Prime Minister Petr Nečas stated he is seriously dissatisfied with the crisis at the office. Mr Pospíšil maintains that he did not err in the decision and says there has been no talk of his own dismissal.
In related news, Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman sharply criticised a public statement by Mr Rampula that two strangers had entered his deputy’s office, accompanied by Mr Mečl. Zeman said the statement was a leaking of classified information and that he would consider whether to take disciplinary measures or dismiss the controversial official. Mr Rampula told journalists on Friday that two strangers entered the office of his deputy in the night on February 17, the he was reinstated at the office, and were ushered in by outgoing interim head Mečl. Mr Mečl has said the men were police who entered the office to take steps required by law.
Hackers have attacked the website of the music rights management company Intergram. The attackers published the company’s database online in response to a call from the international ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous to take over the sites of “corrupt corporations and government systems”. A message left on the Intergram site said that the group was “eliminating obsolete power structures and business mechanisms that have proven a hindrance to human development”. Similar attacks have frequently occurred in recent weeks to protest the international ACTA treaty, which is aimed at combating counterfeiting and online piracy.
A part of Adolf Hitler’s collection of paintings has been rediscovered by an amateur Czech historian. Jiří Kuchar identified the seven paintings in a private section of a depository of the Doksany Monastery. Hitler had originally hid the works of art, which were either bought or seized, in the South Bohemian town of Vyšší Brod, apparently in preparation for the opening of a museum. After Germany´s defeat, the US Army sent the collection to a gathering point for similar artefacts. How the seven paintings came to be in Doksany is not known, according to TV Nova, which reported that no one from the monastery’s staff knew of their origin. Mr Kuchar estimated that the works could fetch up to 50 million crowns at auction.
The opposition Social Democrats are proposing a constitutional amendment requiring that the president obtain a countersignature on pardons. The proposal suggests that pardons be checked in this way by the prime minister or justice minister. The party already made an unsuccessful push for such countersignatures in the amendment on direct presidential elections. The party has asked the president’s office for explanations of a number of controversial pardons, particularly regarding two recent ones that are being investigated by the police.
Overall confidence in the Czech economy was up again in February, according to information from the Czech Statistical Office. Compared to the preceding month, the confidence indicator was higher by 0.8%, thanks in particular to a rise in the indicator of entrepreneurial confidence, namely in industry and select services. Commerce saw a decline while confidence in construction stayed at January levels. The overall monthly indicator continues to exceed levels from the recession year of 2009, though lower in a year-on-year comparison.
The Czech police have prepared charges against a group of 14 people for money laundering, corruption, abuse of power, forgery and tax evasion worth at least 630 million crowns. A police spokesman said it was one of the most difficult tax cases that the anti-corruption police have dealt with. The 26,000-page file on the case suggests highly organised and sophisticated criminal activities that penetrated public administration. The suspects founded several firms that had high incomes from advertising services. To pay lower taxes, the firms registered fictitious invoices. Most of the suspects may be punished with up to 10 years in prison if the charges are proved.
The National Museum is opening an exhibition highlighting the cult of personality of the first Czechoslovak communist president, Klement Gottwald. The exhibition, named Laboratory of Power, is located in the underground rooms of Prague´s Vítkov Memorial that the communist regime built to embalm Gottwald in 1953. The memorial was then turned into a mausoleum. The exhibition includes the machine room and other rooms with original equipment where the work on Gottwald’s preservation took place. Photographs and slogans of the era underscore the atmosphere of the 1950s and highlight the causes of the communist coup of February 25, 1948, led by Gottwald as the Communist Party head and then Czechoslovak prime minister.
Some three dozen Czech Communists paid respects to former president Klement Gottwald at the Olšanský cemetery in Prague on Friday to mark the 64th anniversary of the February Coup. Communist deputy Marta Semelova gave a speech praising the 40 years of the Communist regime and denounced the post-communist era. The group laid flowers at the grave to which Gottwald's remains were transferred after the closing of the mausoleum at Vitkov Hill. The event was marked by particularly low attendance compared to previous years, when around 100, mostly elderly, people would attend.
Viktoria Plzeň lost 3:1 to the German Bundesliga side Schalke 04 after overtime in the best of 16 in the UEFA Europe League. The Czech team has failed to advance to the quarterfinals. A late equalizer from Viktoria Plzeň came at the 88th minute, when Czech midfielder František Rajtoral exploited a clearance attempt by Schalke to force overtime. Ahead of the defeat, Viktoria Plzeň was the only Czech club in the European competition. In December, the club lost to AC Milan, dropping out of the Champions League.
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