Monday, November 26, 2012

News 11.26.2012

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

News Monday, November 26th, 2012

By: Jan Velinger

* The former head of the Prague City Police force, Vladimir Kotrous,
has pleaded guilty to accepting a bribe.

* The head of the VZP - the country's largest insurance company - has
stepped down.

* One of three presidential candidates the Interior Ministry
disqualified from running in January's presidential election, has asked
for a recount.

* Some 150 people attended a demonstration outside the Greek embassy in
support of two Czechs detained for alleged espionage.

* The number of fatalities in the Czech Republic from poisoned alcohol
- related to an outbreak which began in mid-September - has reached 37.

Former police chief pleads guilty to bribery charge

The former head of the Prague City Police force, Vladimir Kotrous,
pleaded guilty in court on Monday, confirming that last year he
accepted a bribe from Josef Jisa, the owner of a car service company.
The former police chief was caught last November with a bribe of 150
thousand crowns; he alleged that he had received the funds on the
promise he would help Mr Jisa's firm gain a contract with the municipal
force. Mr Kotrous explained, as motivation for his deed, that his
family had gotten into unexpected financial difficulty.

Head of VZP steps down

The head of the VZP insurance company, Pavel Horak, and the head of the
firm's administrative board, Marek Snajdr, have stepped down. The
Health Ministry had been pushing for changes in the VZP's top
management for some time, allegedly over a poor running of the company
and a failure to communicate with the ministry. Eighteen of 20 members
on the administrative board elected Zdenek Kabatek to take over at the
helm; seven were against and two abstained. Deputy Health Minister Petr
Nosek, meanwhile, replaces Marek Snajdr as the head of the board.

Disqualified presidential candidate asks interior ministry for recount

Former MEP Jana Bobosikova, one of three presidential candidates that
the Interior Ministry disqualified from running in January's
presidential election, has asked the ministry to do a recount after its
method of calculating invalid signatures was questioned by experts. The
ministry took two samples of the total amount of signatures in support
of each candidate, and verified their validity. It then added the two
error rates and deducted it from the total number of signatures instead
of producing an average error rate. If that had been done, Ms.
Bobosikova would have remained in the race. The two other disqualified
candidates would not have passed the 50,000 signature margin; even so,
economist Vladimir Dlouhy has already said he will contest the
ministry's decision in court; Senator Tomio Okamura confirmed the same.
There are fears that protracted court proceedings could threaten the
planned term of the first direct presidential election scheduled for
January 11-12.

Senator to fight Interior Ministry decision

In more detail, disqualified candidate Tomio Okamura made clear at a
press briefing on Monday that he was willing to go as far as the
Constitutional Court over the Interior Ministry's decision to
invalidate more than 26,000 signatures in his favour, putting him below
the 50,000 threshold. He has currently opted to petition the Supreme
Administrative Court over the Interior Ministry's decision. Ministry
officials came under criticism for adding two separate counts of
questionable signatures rather than averaging them. The senator made
clear, however, in his view the only adequate step would be for all
signatures in support of the 11 presidential candidates to be checked.
At his briefing on Monday, Mr Okamura maintained that peoples' rights
were being trampled on for having made a mistake (such as leaving out
an address when filling in the forms). The recently-elected senator is
being represented by well-known lawyer Klara Samkova.

More than 100 demonstrate for release of Czechs held in Greece

Some 150 people attended a demonstration outside the Greek embassy in
Prague on Monday in support of two Czechs (Martin Pezlar and Ivan
Buchta) detained in Greece over alleged spying. Organisers handed a
petition signed by 21,000 people to the embassy, calling for Messrs.
Pezlar and Buchta's release. The Czech Foreign Ministry was also to be
given a copy. The organisers read a brief statement in which they
called the charges against the suspects, who work for a Czech software
company, unsubstantiated and voiced the conviction that the two men
were innocent. The two Czechs were arrested on Lemnos island on
September 9 for allegedly not heeding ban and photographing a military
area; if found guilty of espionage, the duo could be sentenced to
between five and 20 years in prison. Last week, Czech Prime Minister
Petr Necas discussed the case with his Greek counterpart Antonis

Eleven people charged in copper theft case

Eleven people - four of them prison service guards at the Hermanice
prison house in Ostrava - have now been charged in connection with the
theft of copper, a police spokeswoman said on Monday. A police raid
took place at the prison a day earlier. Those charged are believed to
have been involved in scam practices at a nearby scrap metal yard from
which they made millions of crowns. None of the suspects has been
remanded in custody; those employed by the prison have been let go. In
view of the ongoing investigation the police have released only basic

House of Light offers free HIV testing

Prague's House of Light is offering free anonymous testing for HIV
throughout the final week of November. The annual drive to try to curb
the spread of the deadly virus, which leads to AIDS, is part of the Art
for Life campaign. So far this year the public has donated 160,000
crowns towards HIV prevention.

Number of methanol fatalities reaches 37

The number of fatalities in the Czech Republic from poisoned alcohol -
related to an outbreak which began in mid-September - has reached 37.
The spate of poisonings in the country, largely in Silesia and Moravia,
began after bootleg liquor containing lethal levels of methanol was
released onto the market. Doctors confirmed that the latest patient to
die was a man in his 50s who had been hospitalised in Brno. Officials
have repeatedly appealed to Czechs not to drink hard alcohol of unknown
origin (meaning bottles produced this year lacking newly-issued excise

CNB members Hampl, Tomsik reappointed by president

Czech President Vaclav Klaus reappointed Mojmir Hampl and Vladimir
Tomsik members of the Czech National Bank governing board on Monday.
They will also stay in the posts of vice-governors. Their first
six-year term runs out on December 1. The seven-member Bank Board has a
governor, two vice-governors and four members. Messrs. Hampl and Tomsik
were first appointed by Mr Klaus to the Bank Board as of December 1,
2006. The Board determines the country��s monetary policy and makes
decisions on fundamental monetary policy measures. The national bank
also supervises the entire financial market including banks, insurance
companies and the capital market.


The start of the week should be partly cloudy to overcast with
scattered showers and day temperatures between 7 and 10 degrees Celsius.

Articles posted on today
Mirko Dolak - A Czech Marine in Vietnam

Today 70 and in retirement in Prague, Mirko Dolak can claim to be one
of the few Czechs to have fought for the US in the Vietnam War. Indeed,
his buddies in the Marines gave him the nickname "Czech". He later
spent nearly three decades working for the Government Accountability
Office, which uncovers waste and corruption in US federal agencies.
Sports News 26.11.2012

In Sports News this Monday: Czech swimmers enjoy success at the
European Short Course Swimming Championships, bringing home seven
medals; the domestic soccer league goes into its winter break, with
Jablonec's David Lafata on 13 goals in 16 games; and guess which Czech
athletics legend was among the first dozen inductees into the new IAAF
Hall of Fame.
First direct presidential election hits math snag

The Czech Republic's first direct presidential election has hit its
first snag. On Friday, the Czech Interior Ministry disqualified three
out of eleven candidates from the race on the grounds that they failed
to collect the required 50,000 valid signatures in support of their
bids. But some experts have voiced doubts about the method the ministry
used in calculating the number of invalid signatures which they say
could lead to lengthy legal battles, and might even delay the actual

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