Olomouc Chief Prosecutor Ivo Ištván has said he does not believe there are grounds on which to renew corruption charges against three former Civic Democrat MPs who were suspected of accepting bribes in return for allowing the former centre-right government to survive. The three are believed to have laid down their mandates in return for lucrative posts in state owned companies. Although the Olomouc chief prosecutor appeared confident that he had the evidence needed to prove their guilt two separate rulings by the Supreme Court have gone in the former deputies’ favour. The court ruled that Petr Tluchoř, Marek Šnajdr, and Ivan Fuksa cannot be prosecuted for alleged corruption since their actions were covered by parliamentary immunity – both in and outside the Chamber of Deputies. The chief prosecutor said that such a broad interpretation of parliamentary immunity effectively ruled out further charges.
Social Democrat deputy chair Milan Chovanec, one of the party rebels who attempted to oust Bohuslav Sobotka from the party leadership last week, told Czech television on Sunday that he had offered Mr. Sobotka his resignation from the party leadership and that the offer had been refused. Chovanec said he was still ready to resign if it would help renew communication and restore unity within the party. The foiled coup against the party leader is being debated by the party’s regional branches and there have been calls for all five rebels to leave the party leadership. Party leader Sobotka has taken a benevolent line with Mr. Chovanec who was the first to speak out about a secret meeting with the president, helping to turn the situation around in favour of the embattled leader.
The chairman of the Senate, Social Democrat Milan Štech has urged President Miloš Zeman to speak out about the purpose of a secret meeting he had with deputy heads of the Social Democratic Party in the absence of party leader Bohuslav Sobotka. The meeting, held shortly after the results of the country’s early general elections were announced, is widely regarded as the cue to an attempted coup against the Social Democrat leader. President Zeman who had a number of supporters within the party led by deputy chair Michal Hašek, has not commented on the meeting.
The supermarket chain Globus, the only big retailer still offering plastic bags free of charge, has announced a change of policy as of next year. A company spokesperson for Globus said shoppers in the Czech Republic had become more environmentally conscious and now was a good time to abandon the practice. The chain is currently handing out approximately 40 million plastic bags a year. Hypermarkets such as Tesco and Albert, which started charging for plastic bags a few years ago, say the demand for disposable bags dropped by a half as a result.
More than five thousand parents in Prague failed to enrol their child in a nursery school which presents a serious problem for mothers who want to go back to work after spending time on maternity leave, the internet news site idnes.cz reports. The report says some mothers have taken drastic measures and are leaving their children at supervised children’s corners in shopping malls for as long as five to six hours a day in order to be able to work part-time. Children’s corner supervisors at Zličín, Chodov and Černý Most have confirmed the report saying it presents a serious problem since these corners do not afford a place where children can eat or rest and merely serve as supervised playgrounds.
The police are searching for an armed robber who stole 100,000 crowns from a post office on the western outskirts of Prague on Saturday. The man threatened employees with a pistol and hand-grenade and made off with all the cash available at the post office ahead of closing time. The police have released the man’s description and asked potential witnesses to come forward.
The world-renowned Czech piano maker Petrof is opening a museum on the company’s premises documenting the history of Petrof piano making. The museum will open to the public on Tuesday marking 150 years since the company was established in Hradec Kralove. On display will be twenty rare pieces, among them a piano made by Josef Petrof in 1882 and a pianola (self-playing piano) from 1929. Petrof annually sells over 1,500 pianos to 60 countries worldwide. The company currently employs 220 people.
Former transport minister and Public Affairs leader Vít Bárta who is being investigated by police in connection with information leaks from the police force has been charged and released. Mr. Bárta was released on Friday evening after spending 24 hours in detention. The police have imposed an information embargo on the case and Vít Bárta himself has refused to comment apart from telling journalists he was innocent of the charges against him. According to the internet news site idnes.cz the Public Affairs leader, who once owned the biggest detective agency in the land, has been charged in connection with information leaks of police wiretappings of conversations between the former Prague mayor Pavel Bém and influential Prague businessman Roman Janoušek. The head of the information division of the anti-corruption police Jan Petržílek has also been questioned and charged in connection with the case.
Over a dozen Czech TV reporters have stood up for the head of the station’s news desk Zdeněk Šámal who may allegedly be sacked over claims of censorship. Sixteen news reporters signed a petition in support of Šámal following roumours that he was to be sacked for reportedly censoring news reports in favour of President Miloš Zeman and the Party of Citizens’ Rights –Zemanites. Emotions have been running high at Czech public television after two dozen news and currently affairs reporters sent a letter of complaint to the Czech Television Council claiming independent and impartial reporting was at stake and their bosses were bowing to political pressure. Sixty other employees have disclaimed the reports. The head of Czech public television Petr Dvořák has said he will get independent auditors to investigate the matter.
The Plzen branch of the Social Democrats has expressed full support for party leader Bohuslav Sobotka, who this week survived an attempt to oust him from office. The party chair in turn took a benevolent stance to Milan Chovanec, one of the five rebels who met with President Milos Zeman shortly after the elections allegedly to plan the ouster. He later reconsidered his position and publicly admitted the meeting had taken place, forcing the others into similar admissions and turning the situation around in favour of the embattled leader. Mr. Sobotka said that while Chovanec had retained his respect for speaking out, the other four rebels could no longer be trusted and could not expect posts in high office.