Tuesday, March 6, 2012

News 3.6.2012

Copyright (c) 2012 Radio Prague (Cesky Rozhlas 7 - Radio Praha)

News Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

By: Christian Falvey

* Former Public Affairs MP Krystina Koci has testified against de facto
party leader Vit Barta in the second day of his corruption trial.

* An internal audit has found that Prague City Hall loses track of its
judicial obligations because there is no oversight of ongoing court

* President Vaclav Klaus has asked the Senate to appoint Zdenek
Koudelka to the Constitutional Court.

* The Czech National Bank says the banking sector is resilient enough
to face even very unfavourable developments.

* The German press has reported that President Vaclav Klaus never
received the Konrad Adenauer Prize, which he threatened to return last

Vit Barta corruption trial continues

The trial of former transport minister and head of the junior coalition
party Public Affairs' parliamentary group Vit Barta for corruption
continues on Tuesday. Mr. Barta is suspected of having given cash
bribes to at least two former party members, Kristyna Koci and Jaroslav
Skarka. On the second day of the trial former party member Kristyna
Koci repeated her allegation that Mr Barta had given her half a million
crowns in an envelope in early 2011. She said that their personal
relations were strained at the time and that the money was accompanied
by a request that she be more loyal and bring the club of party MPs
together. She also claimed that all in-party referendums were rigged.
Mr Barta admits to giving the two members money, but says they were
personal loans. The trial opened at a Prague district court on Monday
and has been the focus of intense media attention, with many news
organizations covering it live. Last year, the scandal around Vit Barta
brought the government to the brink of collapse.

Prague City Hall has no oversight of ongoing court cases

An internal audit has found that Prague City Hall loses track of its
judicial obligations because there is no oversight of ongoing court
cases. The audit was instigated due to several recent situations where
city property was nearly seized due to unpaid debts. It found that the
records of the city's ongoing court cases do not show their current
status or results, nor is there sufficient control over whether
court-ordered obligations are fulfilled or who should be responsible
for fulfilling them. In January the city was barred from managing
billions of crowns worth of property due to non-payment of a debt of
some 200,000 crowns.

Klaus nominates Zdenek Koudelka to Constitutional Court

President Vaclav Klaus has asked the Senate to appoint Zdenek Koudelka
to the Constitutional Court. Koudelka, 42, is a former deputy chairman
of the Social Democratic Party and current director of the Kromeriz law
academy. His successful approval in the Social Democrat dominated
Senate is not a given, however, as he lacks the support of many within
the party. Mr Koudelka is the president's second nominee to the seat
after the upper house rejected Jan Svacek in December on the grounds
that he had been joined the Communist Party in 1989.

CNB: banking sector resilient enough to withstand recession

The Czech National Bank says the banking sector is resilient enough to
face even very unfavourable developments. The central bank's latest
stress tests using data leading up to the end of 2011 reportedly prove
the "strong capitalisation, profitability and balance sheet liquidity
that are the foundations of the stability and resilience of Czech
banks". In the coming three years, the banks would keep their aggregate
capital adequacy above the required 8 percent, even in the event of a
deep recession in Europe. Some banks would have to raise capital,
however. The capital adequacy of the Czech banking sector stood at 15.2
percent at end-2011.

Klaus never received award he threatened to return

The German press has reported that President Vaclav Klaus never
received the Konrad Adenauer Prize, which he threatened to return last
week. Mr Klaus wrote to the foundation last Thursday saying he would
return the prize to protest their cancellation of a appearance by one
of his former advisors at an upcoming conference. The president's
website also says he received the award in 1993. However, the
Frankfurter Algemeine has revealed that Mr Klaus never received the
prize, and was only awarded an honorary diploma by the foundation's
Prague branch, which it says was seeking good relations with then Prime
Minister Klaus.

Court hears massive tax fraud case

The Regional Court of Ostrava is hearing a tax evasion case involving
hundreds of millions of crowns traded in fuels. According to the state
prosecutor, entrepreneur Radomir Vybiral, his son Roman and five other
accomplices cost the state at least half a billion crowns through
consumer tax fraud. Vybiral spent seven months in prison six years ago
on similar charges involving a sum of 160 million, but was released on
lack of evidence. Experts have compared the scale of the suspected
fraud to cases involving light heating oil in the early 90s that may
have cost the state up to 100 billion crowns.

German Foreign Minister in Prague

German Foreign Minister Quido Westerwelle is in Prague to mark the 20th
anniversary of a Czech-German cooperation treaty. Speaking after a
meeting with his Czech counterpart, Karel Schwarzenberg, Mr Westerwelle
said that relations between the Czech Republic and Germany were at
their highest ever point and noted that all historic problems had been
overcome through friendly cooperation. Regarding the Czech reticence to
join the EU fiscal responsibility treaty, Westerwelle said the door
remains open to the members who have not signed it. Mr Schwarzenberg
said he could not predict whether the Czech Republic would eventually
join the treaty, but said he thought things would turn out well in the

Mumps on the rise in Pardubice

Cases of the mumps are on the rise in the central region of Pardubice.
Epidemiologists have recorded 420 cases in the region in the last two
months since the beginning of the year as compared to 220 cases in 2011
total. According to the regional hygienic station most of the cases are
in the area of Pardubice and Chrudim, followed by a rise in Usti nad
Orlici. Young people aged 15 to 16 are apparently most susceptible to
the illness. Research is now being conducted to determine why the virus
is spreading despite the fact that most of the population is vaccinated
- whether the vaccine stopped being effective or whether the virus has

One World festival begins 14th year

The One World International Human Rights Film Festival begins on
Tuesday evening in Prague's Svetozor and Lucerna cinemas. Now in its
14th year, the festival will be showcasing documentary works from 44
countries with the main theme being protest, unrest and revolt. The
People in Need foundation, which organises the event, will also award
its annual Homo Homini award to an underground network of health care
workers called Doctors Coordinate of Damascus. The festival will later
move on from Prague to 40 other Czech towns.

Transit authority settles over boy injured on escalator

The Prague transit authority will pay 220,000 crowns to a boy who lost
part of his foot on an escalator in the Prague metro three years ago.
The family of the boy, who was four years old at the time and had to
have three toes amputated, had originally sought more than half a
million while the transit authority offered 120 thousand. The court
recommended that the parties reach a settlement spokeswoman for the
company said it was the only and the last case that the transit
authority would handle through a payment. As many as seven children
have reportedly gotten stuck in metro escalators in the last two years,
though no one has sought damages. The company has since installed
special brushes intended to prevent such accidents.


Conditions over the coming days are expected to be mostly clear with
daytime highs around 5o Celsius.

Articles posted on www.radio.cz today

Emil Holub and the exploration of Africa

This year marks the 110th anniversary of the death of Dr Emil Holub,
perhaps the best-known Czech explorer, who made vast contributions to
public understanding of Africa in the latter half of the 19th century.


Trade union group fears that government cuts will weaken stagnant Czech

The Czech government is debating continued austerity measures, hoping
to save 23 billion crowns in 2012, 42.4 billion in 2013 and a whopping
84.4 billion in 2014. But the plans have been met with opposition from
trade unions, who are highlighting that the cuts could lead to as many
as 24,000 public sector job losses and include layoffs of as many as
17,000 teachers as well as 3,500 police officers within the next two
years. Jaroslav Zavadil, head of the Czech-Moravian Confederation of
Trade Unions recently called this "a path to hell, which will destroy
the public sector."


Daily Telegraph: Prague fourth best city for young expat life

Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper has just published a list of the
top twenty places for young people to emigrate, and the Czech capital
Prague came in fourth. "Beautiful and only a short flight away from
Britain, Prague offers all the stability of Europe with not requiring a
new language, and it has the best beer in the world," that's according
to the Telegraph at least. So is Prague as an expat destination all
it's cracked up to be?


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