A court has imposed suspended sentences on four Czech youths for their participation in a street fight that raised tensions between local residents and the Roma minority in the north Bohemian border town of Šluknov in 2011. Proceedings were held behind closed doors because three of the defendants were minors. They received suspended sentences of seven to eight months with 18 months' probation, while the elder of the group, Kamil Cepero, was handed a 12-month suspended sentence with 24 months' probation. His is the only verdict to have taken effect immediately. All four youths were ordered to pay for the damages incurred. They were charged with breaching the peace, causing bodily harm and, in Cepero's case, racial aggravation.
Police have seized around 1 million liters of untaxed alcohol that lay buried underground in storage tanks in a number of warehouses across Bohemia and Moravia, organized crime squad head Robert Šlachta told reporters May 21. The alcohol was discovered as part of the investigation into last year's methanol poisoning scandal, which has so far claimed 45 lives. Police held several people from an unnamed company for questioning but hadn't made any arrests as of press time. Šlachta wouldn't confirm if one of the detainees was Radek Březina, who was prosecuted for selling illegal liquor last year. The loss in taxes is estimated at 300 million Kč.
President Miloš Zeman explained May 20 why he refused to appoint well-known literary historian Martin C. Putna a university professor. Zeman mentioned a banner Putna carried at Prague's gay pride parade. The banner read "Catholic queers salute Bátora," referring to the former ministry official who opposed the parade two years ago. The president pointed out that he respected people's sexual orientation, but Putna's banner had a different connotation to it. Putna is widely recognized as a Catholic intellectual who has focused on the topics of homosexuality and religion. He is also known for voicing his criticism against Zeman, beginning with the period of elections, when Putna ridiculed a video of Zeman.
The leadership of TOP 09 in Prague decided to withdraw from the coalition with the right-of-center Civic Democrats at City Hall, the party decided May 20. Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda was apparently not prepared for such a development and didn't believe it to be true. If so, it is an "utterly nasty struggle for power," he told the Czech News Agency. TOP 09 could now negotiate a new agreement with the Civic Democrats, introducing changes in who oversees key fields such as public transport, property and financing. It could also form a minority with support from the Civic Democrats or the Social Democrats, or try to form a broader coalition.