Police on Tuesday charged Social Democrat MP and Central Bohemian governor David Rath with corruption. The police were able to charge the governor unusually quickly due to the fact that he was caught in the act, which gives prosecutors the chance to circumvent a law on MP immunity under which the chair of the lower house of Parliament first has to give their approval for the criminal prosecution of an MP to go ahead. Along with the MP and governor, seven other people were arrested. The regional prosecutor said they were suspected of damaging the EU’s financial interests, bribery and corruption. The news website idnes.cz reported the arrests were linked to an investigation of public procurements paid for by EU funds.
Commenting on the arrest of David Rath, Social Democrats leader Bohuslav Sobotka on Tuesday said that the governor and MP should resign from all of his posts and discontinue his membership in the party. He added that Mr Rath should refrain from running for a political post in the upcoming regional elections set to take place in the fall. The deputy leader of the Social Democrats, Jiří Dienstbier, who is the party’s official candidate for the presidential race, on Tuesday also said that should the corruption charges against MP and Governor David Rath prove to be true, Mr Rath should resign from all his posts.
Former leader of the Social Democrats, Jiří Paroubek, on Tuesday commented on David Rath’s arrest, stating that the case demonstrated the party had failed to become a viable alternative to the right-of-center parties. He added that in many regions, governors of the Social Democratic party used politics as a means for enterprise. Mr Paroubek called the opposition party “a clone” of the Civic Democrats, some of whose senior officials have come under suspicion of corruption in the past. The former Social Democrats’ leader, who is currently the head of the left-leaning NS-LEV 21, made it clear that he feels the Social Democrats had failed in implementing their anti-corruption agenda. Since the 2008 regional elections, the party has been governing all of the country’s regions with the exception of Prague.
The exact circumstances of the arrest of governor and MP David Rath have been the subject of media reports. According to the lidovky.cz, the news site of the daily Lidové noviny, David Rath was carrying a shoebox with about 7 million Czech crowns on his person when he was arrested. Citing trustworthy sources, the news site Českápozice.cz wrote that Mr Rath was caught while accepting a 5-million-crown bribe. Later on Tuesday, police confirmed that Mr Rath was arrested with seven million crowns on his person. Should he be found guilty of accepting a bribe, Mr Rath could face up to 12 years in prison.
Czech Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek, speaking on the financial problems in Greece, said that the best solution to the country’s debt crisis would be to leave the Eurozone. At negotiations with the EU’s finance ministers in Brussels on Tuesdays, Mr Kalousek gave his opinion on the matter. He added that unless Greece stuck to the conditions of the bail-out plan, it could not remain a member of the Eurozone. What consequences it would have for the Czech Republic if Greece left the common currency union was difficult to predict, he said. On Tuesday afternoon, rival political leaders failed to reach an agreement on the formation of a new Greek government. Snap elections will have to be held again.
A construction worker, who was working underground in Prague’s Blanka tunnel, was buried by sheathing on Tuesday afternoon. Paramedics resuscitated the 35-year-old man, who was seriously injured and is being treated at Prague’s military hospital. Police are investigating the causes of the accident and interviewing eye witnesses. In the past, sections of Blanka tunnel collapsed on three different occasions. Twice, the collapse created massive craters in the capital’s Stromovka park. In one previous incident, a worker was buried in the collapse and rescued only after several hours.
The Czech economy’s growth rate in the first quarter of 2012 ranks among the worst within the EU, according to fresh data from Eurostat. The Czech Republic came in second-to-last, with only Hungary having a worse rate of growth. In the first three months of 2012, the Czech economy shrank by one percent GDP. However, Eurostat’s new data did not include eight of the union’s 27 member states. Among those not included in the newest figures was debt-ridden Greece. Overall, the economy in the EU in the first quarter of 2012 grew by 0.1 percent year-on-year, while it stagnated in the Eurozone.
The trial of two men who are charged with brutally murdering a 77-year-old pensioner opened at a regional court in Ustí nad Labem on Tuesday. The two men, aged 21 and 59, are suspected of having beaten their victim to the point that he suffocated. The incident took place last May in a small village in the Polabí region. If found guilty, they could face prison sentences of up to 20 years.
A Czech citizen has been sentenced to five years in prison by a French court for driving under the influence of marijuana and causing a traffic accident last March in which three people were killed. The car crash happened near Paris, in the city Combs-la-Ville. The 43-year-old driver failed to notice a traffic jam and crashed into the car in front of him. Three people were killed; four injured, one of them seriously. The driver was speeding and police found high levels of marijuana in his system.
The Czech Republic beat Germany 8:1 at the Ice Hockey World Championship 2012 in Stockholm on Tuesday. A loss would have pitted the Czech Republic against group leader Russia in the quarterfinals. The victory places the Czech team third in their group. In Thursday’s quarterfinals, the Czech Republic will face Sweden, which ranks second in the group.