Wednesday, October 17, 2012

News 10.17.2012

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

News Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

By: Masha Volynsky

* Czech Police have arrested the head of the alcohol producer Likerka
Drak in connection with last week's discovery of poisoned liquor.

* Prime Minister Petr Necas has announced that the Czech Republic is
ready to veto the EU banking supervisor agency.

* Telecommunication giant Telefonica Czech Republic has received a 93.1
million crown fine for threatening free competition.

* Eight members of the far-right group National Resistance have been
acquitted by a Prague district court.

* A ten-year prison sentence for the fugitive businessman Viktor Kozeny
was upheld by an appellate court in Prague.

Police arrest executive director of liquor producer Likerka Drak

The police have arrested Pavel Caniga, the executive director of the
liquor company Likerka Drak, and are still searching for the head of
Drak's distribution company Verdana, Robert Sedlarik. The two men are
suspected of endangering public health with harmful products, after
7,600 bottles of rum containing 50% methanol were discovered in a
storage facility belonging to Verdana at the end of last week.
According to the police, the bottles were ready for distribution to
stores, which could have caused a considerable number of deaths. Both
Mr Caniga and Mr Sedlarik denied any knowledge of the dangerously mixed
liquor, but failed to produce documentation for more than 56 thousand
liters of alcohol found in the Verdana warehouse. Mr Caniga is
currently being questioned by the police, but no charges have been
brought against him so far.

PM Necas is willing to block the proposal for EU banking supervisor

Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas has said that the government is ready
to block the establishment of the single EU banking supervising agency
unless the disputed proposals that could threaten the Czech financial
system are resolved. Mr Necas made the announcement at a press
conference on Wednesday, saying that given the fact that 95 percent of
the Czech banking market is controlled by foreign banking groups, the
government has to be careful with regard to EU-wide regulations. The
banking supervising system is deemed to be one of the building blocks
of the new banking union that EU legislators in Brussels are currently
working on. According to the Czech prime minister, the current
proposals of the supervising agency and the banking union are not
satisfactory, and the Czech Republic would veto them if they were put
to a vote today.

Telefonica Czech Republic has received a 93.1 million crown fine for

The Czech Office for the Protection of Competition (UOHS) has issued
the telecommunications giant Telefonica Czech Republic a 93.1 million
crown fine for breaking fair competition rules and taking advantage of
the dominant position of the then Czech Telecom to impose unfair rules
for telephone services to business clients in 2001 and 2002. UOHS
chairman Petr Rafaj said that the terms of the contracts provided to
entrepreneurs not only threatened the growth of competition on the
market, but also discriminated against this group of clients. The
regulating body's decision has not yet come into effect, and Telefonica
is planning to appeal.

Eight members of a far-right group are cleared of charges

The Prague 1 District Court on Wednesday acquitted eight defendants on
charges of promoting and organizing neo-Nazi events. The State Attorney
immediately appealed the verdict and the case will now be tried in the
Prague City Court. Seven men and one woman allegedly promoted the
activities of the neo-Nazi group National Resistance and organized
events such as marches and white power music concerts in Prague,
Jihlava and in the Central Bohemian region. At least four of the
defendants are former members of the banned far-right Workers' Party.

Prague appellate court has confirmed prison sentence for the fugitive
businessman Viktor Kozeny

A Prague court of appeals on Wednesday upheld the guilty verdict for
the controversial fugitive businessman and founder of the fraudulent
Harvard Funds, Viktor Kozeny, and his associate Boris Vostry. The
10-year prison sentence handed to Mr Kozeny in absentia two years ago
was upheld, while Mr Vostry's was lowered to nine years. The two men
were found guilty of committing fraudulent practices that cost the
fund's investors 10 billion crowns. Mr Kozeny founded the Harvard Funds
in the early 1990's and gained most of his capital thanks to the
government's so-called coupon privatization. He is an Irish citizen and
is currently residing in the Bahamas, which have so far refused all
requests for his extradition.

Man without heart dies six months after operation

A 37-year-old former firefighter, who for more than six months lived
with two artificial pumps instead of a heart, died on Saturday while
awaiting a suitable donor, the daily Blesk reported on Wednesday. The
man, who had a large tumor on his heart, underwent the operation on
April 3; doctors at Prague's IKEM institute removed his heart and
replaced it with two pumps. The father-of-one became the first patient
in the world to live without a palpable pulse. The head of IKEM's
cardio centre, Jan Pirk, said the cause of the man's death is yet to be
established but noted the pumps worked without problems.

Government approves new asylum regulations

The Czech government approved a draft amendment on Wednesday that
brings Czech regulations on asylum in line with the single EU asylum
system. This will give foreigners who are recognized as refugees, or
were granted additional protection, in the Czech Republic the ability
to travel within the European Union after a certain period of residency
in the country. The bill should improve the rights and the integration
process for refugees and persons with additional international
protection. The amendment could come into effect starting in 2014, once
it is approved by the parliament and signed by the president.

Court gives the whole of Lucerna Palace to Havel's sister-in-law

After years of appeals, Dagmar Havlova, the sister-in-law of the late
former Czech president Vaclav Havel, received a court ruling on
Wednesday that confirmed her ownership rights to the whole of the
Lucerna Palace, located on Prague's central Vodickova street. The wife
of Vaclav Havel's brother Ivan received ownership rights to one half of
the building as a gift from her husband in the early 1990's and was
looking to buy the other half ever since. The former president, though,
sold his half of the building to a company Chemapol Realty in 1997. The
company sold it two years later to Ms Havlova before it filed for
bankruptcy, for a sum that was 55 thousand crowns lower than what it
had paid for the palace to Mr Havel. The bankruptcy administrator filed
a complaint against the sale claiming that the reduction in price was
unsubstantiated and that the company sold the real estate during
bankruptcy proceedings when it could make these kinds of decisions
independently. The Wednesday decision of the Prague High Appeals Court
upheld the April verdict of the City Court that determined that
Chemapol Reality sold its half of the Lucerna Palace for the market
price and that the sale was not part of the bankruptcy proceedings.

Czech Senate receives recommendation to approve leaving exam changes

The Education Committee of the Czech Senate issued a recommendation
today for the Upper House to pass without changes an amendment that
would change the format of the state high-school leaving exams. The
amendment proposes to leave only one basic version of the test, and
would limit the number of required subject test to two - Czech language
and a foreign language or mathematics. Education Minister Petr Fiala
assured the committee that the proposed changes would only be temporary
and that more systematic changes to the exam system will be introduced
within two years. The current changes are a reaction to the intense
criticism of the trail run of the exams from last year. The Senate
should discuss the amendment next week.


The coming days will be sunny and partly overcast with high temperature
between 12 and 16 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Social Democrat MP Jan Hamacek: Communist Party's strong showing in
regional elections should be a lesson to us

With talks underway on forming regional governments, the Social
Democratic Party is still coming to terms with the fact that although
it came first in last weekend's regional elections it is the Communist
Party which is regarded as the real winner. The Social Democrats failed
to defend their 2008 victory in all 13 regions, coming first in 9,
while the Communists won in two and came hard on their heels in most of
the others, giving them the chance to drive a hard bargain in regional
administration. Radio Prague spoke to Social Democrats deputy Jan
Hamacek about the reasons behind the Communist Party's strong showing
and what it may signify for the future.
Sham Czech brides face prison sentences in UK

A court in Sheffield in the UK has heard the case of 19 people,
including a group of Czech and Slovak women - who were part of a sham
marriage ring. Between 2009 and 2011, the gang paid the sham brides to
fly to Pakistan where fake marriages were arranged for them so that
their husbands could apply for UK visas. The court has found guilty
seven members of the gang; another 11 are awaiting the verdict while
the two main organizers are on the run. RP discussed the case with
UK-based Czech journalist Jan Jun.
Former US secretaries of the treasury discuss Eurozone crisis and the
US approach to it

The annual international conference USA and European Union Days, which
took place in Prague earlier this month, focused this year among other
issues on the recent European currency and budgetary crisis, as well as
on the economic situation in the US. Czech Radio's Vaclav Sochor spoke
to two former US secretaries of the treasury under the Clinton
administration, Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers, about their views on
the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone, and their country's approach to it.

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