Interior Minister Radek John on Monday appointed Petr Lessy the country’s new police president. The appointment preceded a meeting with Prime Minister Petr Nečas who said he had not dropped his reservations regarding the selection process of the new police chief, but would not hinder the appointment in the interest of maintaining coalition unity. The new police president was chosen by a special commission at the instigation of the interior minister. Some experts have questioned the legality of the procedure. Lessy’s predecessor Oldřich Martinu was forced to resign under pressure from the interior minister who accused him of being a puppet of the senior party in government, the Civic Democrats.
The commercial TV station Z1 is being closed down due to financial problems, the ctk news agency reported on Monday. Z1 is to go off the air as of midnight tonight. The station which launched its digital broadcasts in 2008 has focused largely on news, business reports and short documentaries. It has been dogged by financial problems. Its management laid off two-thirds of employees in the autumn of 2009 but despite this and other streamlining measures the station has been unable to build up an audience and generate profit.
A meeting between Health Minister Leoš Heger and representatives of doctors’ trades unions on Monday failed to avert a looming crisis in the health sector. The health minister once again appealed for patience saying that money for higher wages would be part of a broader health care reform. Minister Heger said it was now up to hospital directors to try to find spare cash to improve the lot of doctors, until a gradual salary increase could be affected starting 2012. More than 3,800 physicians have handed in their notice in an attempt to secure salaries up to three times the national average; the resignations are to take effect in March. The two sides will return to the negotiating table on Friday.
The new Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman has dismissed the head of the office’s criminal department Stanislav Potoček. Potocek is seen as one of the key figures who helped stop criminal proceedings against former deputy prime minister Jiří Čunek on suspicion of corruption. He twice used his prerogative to transfer the Čunek case from one state attorney to another, who promptly halted the prosecution. Potoček’s post is to be filled by Roman Hájek, one of his strongest critics over the Čunek affair.
The Defense Ministry has asked the police to investigate the purchase of overpriced medical equipment for the ministry on suspicion of abuse of position and mismanagement of funds, the ctk news agency reported on Monday. The man responsible for the purchase of first aid kits for the army and several other overprized purchases has been suspended from office pending the outcome of an investigation.
The Slovak State Attorney’s Office has dropped criminal charges against former communist leader Vasil Bilak who sanctioned the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Bilak, one of the communist hardliners who opposed Alexander Dubcek’s Prague Spring reforms wrote a letter of invitation to the Moscow leadership asking the Soviets to stop the “counter-revolution” in Czechoslovakia by any means. In 2000 the Slovak authorities launched criminal proceedings against Vasi Bilak on charges of treason, but investigators said there was a lack of witnesses in the Czech Republic to take the now 93-year-old Bilak to court.
The Supreme Court has ruled that cars that get towed away in order to facilitate road maintenance must be returned as soon as the operation is over. The respective authorities can then bill the car’s owner for the expense incurred. The precedent ruling was made on a case in which a woman sued the town hall for placing her car on an expensive parking lot which led to her paying an astronomical sum of money.
Police say they have detained a truck driver who was caught transporting a truck-load of marihuana seedlings from the Netherlands to Hungary. The police found the goods after doing a routing check at a parking lot. The driver said he had no idea what goods he was transporting. A sample of the seedlings has been sent for analysis.
Prague Wine Week kicks off at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Prague’s Dejvice district on Monday night. Now in its fourth year the wine festival involves tastings, special menus and a competition for the annual Prague wine trophy. For a full list of the events taking place at various Prague bars, hotels and restaurants go to the Prague Wine Week website.
The Czech Republic's Petra Kvitová downed Italy's 22nd seed Flavia Pennetta 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 in the fourth round of the Australian Open on Monday. The 28th seeded Kvitová came back from losing the first set to beat the Italian in one hour 55minutes on Melbourne Park's Hisense Arena. Kvitová, who defeated fifth seeded Australian Samantha Stosur in the third round, has now won nine matches in a row to start the year, following her win in the Brisbane International in the first week of January. The 20-year-old left hander from Fulnek in the Czech Republic is the first Czech woman to reach the quarter-finals in Melbourne since Nicole Vaidisová in 2007.