The opposition Social Democrats have insisted they are not in trouble after taking a hit in public opinion polls over the Rath corruption case, according to a Czech daily. Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Friday that the party – which had been on the upswing for some time – had lost some support among potential voters over the Rath scandal and other developments such as initial indecision over its candidate for president or a decision by influential party member Milada Emerová to candidate for another party in the regional elections. Speaking to the daily, the Social Democrats’ Jeroným Tejc denied the party was in crisis but admitted that recent developments had forced introspection; colleague Jiří Dienstbier, the party’s candidate for president, stressed that the recent cases were not connected, while deputy leader Michal Hašek suggested that recent developments required a quick response to improve the party’s standing among some of its supporters.
Police arrested seven men on Friday suspected of having accosted Litomeřice businessman Jaroslav Papoušek at his home on May 25 – an incident in which an eighth assailant was killed. Police have since also apprehended an additional suspect who was on the run. All seven of those detained, whose ages range from 21 to 60, have been charged with attempted robbery. The men involved were either local, or from Plzeň and Prague, a police spokeswoman said. Police are investigating how events unfolded, including how one of the suspects was killed while the others fled, and are otherwise keeping a tight lid on details.
A homeless man sleeping in a garbage container was killed on Saturday morning when sanitation workers failed to register his presence and dumped him along with the contents into a garbage truck compactor. By the time they realised their mistake, it was too late. The man, a foreign national, was in his mid-forties, a police spokeswoman said. The tragedy happened in Prague’s Žižkov. According to the spokeswoman two similar incidents happened last winter; she said that although workers regularly checked containers, it was sometimes hard to see sleeping figures hidden beneath paper. The tragedy was reported by the ČTK news agency.
Traffic and public transport at Prague’s Letná will see restrictions that began on Saturday as major road, tram line, and sidewalk repairs get underway. Letná tunnel will closed to motorists for a number of weeks. The extensive renovation project will last throughout – and should be completed by the end of - the summer holidays.
Three Czech students reached the final round in an international competition (Social Impact Award) recognizing socially-beneficial projects, idnes reports. The three – all students at Charles University – came up with a project called Pragulic (a play on the word Prague and the Czech word for street), by which homeless people could give foreign tourists somewhat atypical tours of Prague: namely of areas they know well. The students behind the project say they want to begin looking for reliable candidates soon. Similar projects already exist in London and Munich, the daily notes.
World-renowned tenor José Cura will perform in a sold-out concert in Olomouc on Saturday. Some 2,600 tickets for the performance were bought. The concert will also see Korean soprano Wonsin Lee perform. Mr Cura will return to the Czech Republic again in two months to perform in a Ruggero Leoncavallo opera to be staged in Český Krumlov.
The Czech national football team lost its final friendly on Friday in the run-up to the European Championship in Ukraine and Poland which begins next week. On Friday evening the squad – minus team captain Tomáš Rosický (still recovering from injury) - faced Hungary at Letná stadium in Prague. Hungary opened the scoring after just six minutes: Balazs Dzsudzsak's free kick from just outside the penalty area caught the Czechs out as they organised their defence. The hosts, who created a number of chances, equalized with a Michal Kadlec penalty midway through the first half after striker Milan Baroš was brought down inside the area. Although the Czechs largely dominated, Hungary struck again late in the game with a goal by Adam Gyurcso. The Czech’s first game at Euro 2012 takes place next Friday against Russia.
Prosecutors from Ústí nad Labem transferred the case against former governor David Rath – remanded in custody over suspected corruption – to the region of Central Bohemia on Friday. It is there, in the town of Rudná, that Mr Rath is suspected of having accepted a bribe related to a corrupt tender and the planned renovation of Buštěhrad castle. News website tyden.cz reports that supervision of the case has been taken over by Petr Jirát, an expert in economic corruption at the state prosecutor’s office in central Bohemia. The Social Democrat MP and former governor David Rath was arrested in mid-May with seven million crowns on his person; eight others were also charged in the case. Police wiretaps, a small part of which were published by the press on Friday, showed Mr Rath and a colleague expressing glee over illicit funds.
Patients at Czech hospitals will be able to opt for surgeons or specialists of their choice by paying a fee between five and 15 thousand crowns as of Friday. Facilities, however, will still have to provide top quality service even for those who “opt out”. In Prague, the Royal Vinohrady Teaching Hospital is one of the facilities providing the service; not all facilities will. The head of the Royal Vinohrady Teaching Hospital, Marek Zeman, has said that doctors booked by patients would receive 50 percent of the fee, while the rest went to the hospital budget. Lawyer and former head of the Constitutional Court, Eliška Wágnerová, has interpreted the service differently, saying the entire fee will go to hospitals in question and not be divided with specialists.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg on Friday presented 12 laureates with the Gratias Agit award for promoting the good name of the Czech Republic abroad. Among those awarded this year are former figure-skating champion Ája Vrzáňová, UK-based architect Eva Jiřičná, and composer Antonín Tučapský. Three foreign nationals were recognised, including Nazmi Akiman of Turkey, a former diplomat who is now the chairman of the Czech-Turkish Business Council. The awards are held annually in the Great Hall at Czernin Palace – the headquarters of the Czech Foreign Ministry.