Anti-corruption police say they have launched an investigation into the circumstances surrounding a multimillion-crown deal between an investment company and the mother of the current Industry and Trade Minister Martin Kocourek back in 2008. The daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Friday that in 2008, the firm Key Investments sent bonds worth 16 million crowns, or nearly 880,000 US dollars, to an account owned by the minister’s mother Jindřiška Kocourková. According to a police spokesman, investigators are currently gathering and studying documents.
Environment ministers from the Visegrad Group countries, Bulgaria and Romania have agreed that cutting down on carbon dioxide emissions should not harm local economies and that the United States, China and other states must also take part in the reductions. The EU produces 12 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions but according to Czech Environment Minister Tomáš Chalupa it keeps cutting emissions despite having one of the lowest economic growths. Speaking at meeting outside Prague on Tuesday, Minister Chalupa said that if the largest polluters do not participate in reducing CO2 emissions, further cuts in Europe would harm its competitiveness. The six central and east European countries – about one-fifth of the EU in terms of both population and territory – coordinated their stances ahead of an U.N. international conference on climate change opening in Durban, South Africa, in late November.
Anti-corruption police raided the headquarters of the Ministry of Education last week seeking information on a suspicious tender, the daily Lidové noviny reports on Tuesday. According to the paper, the police are investigating a multimillion-crown tender being prepared for support of research and development and confiscated a number of computers and documents in the raid. Education Minister Josef Dobeš says he was unaware of the raid.
Tuesday’s Mladá fronta Dnes daily reports that the Finance Ministry’s analytical department is looking into the financial situation of the Governor of the Moravian-Silesian region and Social Democrat Senator Jaroslav Palas. The newspaper cites the ministry’s letter sent to a number of banks several weeks ago asking whether Mr Palas or his wife had accounts in them. If so, the ministry has asked to see all bank statements since 2007. According to the daily, the investigation was launched after Mr Palas started building a house worth tens of millions of crowns. The governor says the money comes from his savings.
A court in Prague 1 has halted criminal prosecution against Martin Knetig, one-time advisor to former Environment Minister Pavel Drobil. The office of the state attorney said on Tuesday it had received the court decision and would consider whether to file a complaint. Mr Knetig was accused of corruption after allegedly demanding a bribe from a bank officer in connection with depositing the State Environmental Fund’s money into a number of unspecified banks in 2010. Former Environment Minister Pavel Drobil, now deputy chairman of the Civic Democrats, distanced himself from his former advisor over the affair, saying Mr Knetig had not acted on his instructions. Mr Drobil has rejected allegations he was implicated in the matter.
Police say they have recruited 50 new police officers to be deployed in the Šluknov district in North Bohemia troubled by racial tensions between Romanies and the majority population. Before the new officers complete their training, riot police from other regions are to take turns in the area for another six to twelve months. The riot police presence in the district has cost 40 million crowns since the end of August but according to Police President Petr Lessy has not managed to reduce petty crime. Unrest in North Bohemia began in August following a number of violent attacks blamed by the locals on members of the Roma minority.
A new poll carried out by the STEM agency suggests almost three fifths of Czechs believe that the country’s economic situation will be worse in five years’ time. According to the agency this is the most pessimistic expectation in the last 18 years. STEM also says it has never occurred before that more than 50 percent of respondents expected a turn for the worse in a five-year perspective. Some 44 percent of those polled said they expected their household living standard to fall in the coming five years. Left-leaning voters and older people tend to have gloomier expectations, the agency said.
Officials at a clinic in the eastern town of Olomouc have reported a healthy boy was left in their babybox on Monday evening at around 9 pm. Doctors estimate the child’s age at around 18 months. The founder of the Czech babybox system, Ludvík Hess, said that he has never encountered a case of such an old child being left in a babybox. The toddler is the third child to be left in the Olomouc babybox, of a total of 61 left anonymously in one of the 46 babybox facilities around the country since the system was launched in 2005.
The Prague zoo has reported 1.3 million visitors this year, having already broken a record from 2009 when just under 1.3 million people visited the facility in the course of the year. In the past decade the number of visitors to the zoo has doubled as well as the number of animals kept. At the end of 2001 the Prague zoo kept 1,981 animals of 415 different species. At the end of last year it kept 4,422 animals of 672 different species. The zoo saw a construction boom after a flood in 2002 had destroyed its low-lying parts inflicting damage worth some 232 million crowns.
Another baby gorilla has been born in the Prague zoo, its management has reported. Sixteen-year-old female western lowland gorilla named Bikira who arrived in Prague from the UK last November gave birth to her first young on Tuesday evening. So far the facility has raised three gorillas born there since 2004. The oldest of them, Moja, was supposed to be relocated to Spain in October but the move has been postponed until spring due to the animal’s health problems. Six-year-old Moja is going to travel to the Cabárceno Nature Park in northern Spain where she is expected to mate with a male gorilla born in the wild.