News in brief for Sept. 15: Top headlines for Czechia on Friday

Fiala talks lower food prices, Ryanair bolsters Prague operations, and more headlines for Sept. 15, 2023. Staff ČTK

Written by StaffČTK Published on 15.09.2023 08:13:00 (updated on 15.09.2023) Reading time: 5 minutes

justice Prague High Court overturns Babiš verdict

The Prague High Court has overturned the acquittal of former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his former adviser Jana Nagyová in the Čapí hnízdo case. The case will now be reopened by the Prague Metropolitan Court. The High Court's decision was made in a closed session and cannot be commented on until it is delivered to the prosecutor and defense lawyers.

Babiš claims that the case is a politically motivated prosecution. The written verdict of the appeals court will be sent to the parties involved in approximately one month.

economy Czech Post plans more layoffs

The Czech Post (Česká pošta) plans to lay off 282 workers, mainly in managerial and administrative positions, at the end of the year. The majority of central post offices in the Czech Republic will be affected.

The layoffs are part of cost-saving measures and the company's transformation into a branch operator and commercial delivery company. This reduction in staff is expected to save CZK 200 million next year. The company has already closed 300 branches and laid off around 824 employees this year.

society Singer Vondráčková discharged from hospital

Singer Helena Vondráčková was discharged from hospital this afternoon into home care, according to a post on her official Facebook page. Vondráčková was taken to the Prague Central Military Hospital this morning following a fall down the stairs.

Her manager and husband Martin Michal said the beloved singer was fine, although she had to postpone her concert scheduled to take place today in Havlíčkov Brod.

transport DPP overturns decision on metro tender

The Transport Company of the City of Prague (DPP) has succeeded in overturning the decision of the Office for the Protection of Economic Competition (ÚOHS) to annul the tender procedure for the second section of the metro D. Chairman of the antimonopoly office Petr Mlsna canceled the decision and ÚOHS will now reassess the procurement procedure.

In July, ÚOHS ruled that DPP had set discriminatory conditions in the procurement procedure, but Mlsna disagreed, stating that the requirement for elevator deliveries did not hinder economic competition.

animals Prague Zoo successfully breeds rare ducks

The Prague Zoo announced that it was enjoying "great breeding success" thanks to which it now hosts eight young Hartlaub’s duck chicks. According to the zoo, Hartlaub’s ducks live in only five zoos in Europe, four of them being located in the Czech Republic.

The zoo's breeding of the species started in 2020 when it received two unrelated pairs of ducks from the Pinola Conservancy, a specialized non-public breeding center in the U.S. Following their successful breeding, the first Hartlaub's ducklings of the species in the Czech Republic hatched in 2021.

law Czech Supreme Court upholds neo-Nazi convictions

The Czech Supreme Court upheld the suspended sentences of three individuals convicted for promoting neo-Nazism. The case, which began in 2010, involved a total of eight people, with only three filing an appeal. The appeals were deemed unfounded, and no rights violations were found. The convicted individuals still have the option to file a constitutional complaint.

The group faced charges for distributing promotional materials, organizing rallies, and operating a website promoting neo-Nazi ideas. The case has faced previous acquittals and delays, with the courts noting the seriousness of the criminal activity alongside the excessive length of the proceedings.

TRAVEL Ryanair boosts operations at Prague Airport

Ryanair is boosting operations at Prague Airport for the upcoming winter season, reports Zdopravy. The airline will base a fourth aircraft at the airport, representing a CZK 2.3 billion investment. It will launch six new routes to Catania, East Midlands, Gdansk, Malaga, Seville and Tirana, and increase flights on 12 existing routes. The expansion brings 27 total routes and 30 new jobs.

Smartwings also unveiled winter plans from Czech airports, including direct flights to Dubai, Spain, the Canary Islands and Turkey. CSA will begin flying to Yerevan. Prague Airport handled 5.8 million passengers in the first half of 2022, up 36 percent over 2021.

Real estate Mortgage lending in Czechia shows signs of recovery

Mortgage lending in the Czech Republic showed signs of recovery in August, with banks providing over CZK 14 billion crowns in loans, a quarter more than July and the highest month since June. The average interest rate for new mortgages fell slightly to 5.78 percent, the lowest in a year.

Over 3,700 new mortgages were granted, though annual lending remains well below levels from earlier this decade. The Czech Banking Association reported a 40 percent rise in lending from a year ago but said the market remains subdued. Rates are forecast to continue declining slowly, with a sharper drop expected in 2023.

Economy Czech billionaire buys land near O2 Arena

The Kaprain Group has purchased a large brownfield site near Prague's O2 Arena from American industrial concern Howden. The over five hectare tract near the Českomoravská metro station was estimated to sell for hundreds of millions of crowns. Kaprain developer Marcel Dostal said the group will work with the city to build a new residential and commercial district.

Billionaire Karel Pražák's Kaprain already owns other sites in the area and manages over CZK 33 billion in assets, with plans to redevelop the newly acquired land pending regulatory approvals. The antitrust regulator will review Pražák's role in the group.

accident Train collision near Mladá Boleslav halts traffic

A collision between a passenger and freight train in Bezděčín around 4:15 p.m. on Thursday halted traffic on the line from Mladá Boleslav to Nymburk. Three people were slightly injured, and 37 passengers were evacuated. The collision occurred when a passenger train passed a traffic stop sign. Several axles of the freight train derailed, causing damage to the sleepers.

Czech Railways initially stated that service could resume in the evening, but the Railway Administration clarified that it would be stopped until Friday at 6 a.m. The trains were still at the collision site on Thursday at 9 p.m. Partial restrictions may continue even after service is restored.

economy PM: Pressure on farmers should lower food prices

Prime Minister Petr Fiala said on Thursday that the pressure applied to farmers and food producers has already led to a month-on-month decrease in food prices in August. He said that the record profits of companies in the agriculture and food industry, which were supported by state subsidies, should further lower food prices.

In response to criticisms, he emphasizes the need for the state to pressure all stakeholders in the production and sale of food to lower their prices. Minister of Agriculture Marek Výborný added that food producers should reinvest their profits into the value chain.

politics Opposition fails to remove Prague deputy mayor

Opposition members of the Czech parliament failed to remove Prague deputy mayor Jiří Pospíšil (TOP 09) due to his involvement in the Dosimeter corruption case. Out of 65 representatives, only 24 voted for his removal. Pospíšil denied guilt at an extraordinary council meeting.

The Dosimeter case last year led to charges against several individuals, including the former deputy mayor of Praha-Lysolaje Petr Hlubuček (formerly STAN), the former financial director of the DPP Matej Augustín, and businessman Michal Redl. The opposition movement ANO and SPD called the meeting, with ANO's leader Andrej Babiš saying that nearly all entities that are part of Prague politics are involved.

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