President Václav Klaus confirmed deputy chairman of the Civic DemocraticParty Pavel Blažek as the country’s new justice minister in a ceremonyat Prague Castle on Tuesday morning. in a speech, mr Blažek cast doubt onany appointment of Lenka Bradáčová, a highly respected prosecutor andanti-corruption crusader, to the post of Prague High State Attorney. Thenew minister said he would not be taking orders from the Supreme StateAttorney or following in the footsteps of his predecessor, both of whom heinsinuated were controlled by regional politicians. the independentauthority of state attorney, he said, should be kept in check. Pavel Blazekreplaces Jiří Pospíšil whom the prime minister controversially sackedlast week, criticising him of poor financial management. however, many havespeculated that the decision was actually meant to block the imminentappointment of Bradáčová.
Justice Minister Pavel Blažek also said after his appointment that hewould be working with his deputies and with the finance minister to findcompartments in the ministry where money could be saved. He said thegovernment under Petr Nečas insisted on saving wherever possible, and thathe agreed with this. the main reason that Prime Minister Nečas gave forfiring former minister Pospíšil was that he had asked for an additionalone billion crowns for the prison system at a time when all ministries weresuffering cuts. Blažek said his plan was to do what was necessary to avoidending up like his predecessor.
One of the defence systems on the army’s CASA transport planes are notup to specifications, the Defence Ministry reports. Specifically, theplanes’ DAS, or Defensive Aids system used for detecting and preventingan attack, was unsuitable in seven out of 17 areas. the same system failedmilitary examinations last year, since which time they were meant to berepaired. according to the ministry, in their present state the planescannot be used in Afghanistan, which they were intended for. Police arecurrently investigating the purchase of the four planes, which they believewere overpriced.
The president has signed an amendment to the Armed Services Act that willallow the army to use radio scramblers for training purposes. according tothe new law, the devices can only be used under set conditions and whennecessary for training, particularly for foreign missions. the army mustinform the Czech Telecommunications Office and the Integrated Rescue Systemof their use beforehand. the same law also simplifies the sending of planeswith humanitarian aid, which can now be decided on by the Defence Ministryrather than the entire government.
Heavy storms and torrential rain overnight are reported to have causednumerous problems in the northern parts of the country. High winds broughtdown power lines in Trutnov, Náchod and Hradec Králové leaving hundredsof people without electricity, a number of smaller roads have had to beclosed down due to local flooding and cellars were inundated. No injurieshave been reported. More storms of equal intensity are expected Tuesdaynight.
Police on Tuesday detained four people at an office responsible fordistributing EU subsidies. A police spokesman said some of the detainees,who work for a Regional Operational Programme office, would be probablyaccused of abuse of power, but refused to reveal their positions. Accordingthe Czech Press Agency they include a section head and a department head.Police raided the office’s headquarters on June 1 and seized documents onfour projects and data from the servers after a 24-hour search. They sayTuesday´s detentions concerned the same case.
The European Anti-fraud Office intends to investigate the corruption caseof former governor David Rath, Czech Radio 1 has reported. DirectorGiovanni Kessler told the station that the office, which deals with fraudcases regarding EU funds, will also be cooperating with Czech authorities,which he said is problematic – their cooperation with the SupremeProsecutor’s Office was excellent, he said, but with the governmentministries it was worse. Police accuse Dr Rath of accepting a seven millioncrown bribe that they believe involved the manipulation of EU funds.
In related news, the state attorney has rejected a complaint from Dr Rathregarding his investigation. Rath’s lawyers contest that the police didnot order an expert assessment of the order for the repair of a chateauthat their client is charged with manipulating. They also say that DrRath’s charges were phrased differently in two different protocols.according to the defence, the rejection of the case shows that theprosecution is relying solely on wiretap recordings. Police are alsoinvestigating seven other people in connection with the case; their similarcomplaints were also dismissed.
The Czech Bishops’ Conference is meeting for their 90th plenary sessionin the Moravian pilgrimage town of Velehrad. Ahead of the celebrations forthe church and state holidays of Saints Cyril and Methodius on Thursday,the main topic of discussion will be church restitution, which Parliamentis to vote on this month. the government plans for churches to be givenroughly one half of their former property worth 75 billion crowns; for therest they will receive 59 billion over 30 years.
The zoo in Liberec is now home to three baby white tigers. the rare cubswere born to their four-year-old mother, Surya Bára, on Sunday morning.the births mark only the second successful attempt at breeding whitetigers, the last having been ten years ago. the same animal bore three cubslast year but failed to care for them; the breeders then did not interveneand allowed the tigress to learn on her own – a decision they saySunday’s birth proved to be the right one. the zoo’s tiger pavilion hasbeen closed to the public as a precaution, but can be watched on atelevision screen elsewhere in the zoo.
Conditions should be mostly cloudy with scattered showers and heat storms;daytime highs of 24-28° Celsius.