Opencard sentences overturned

The Prague High Court canceled the verdict against ex-mayor Hudeček

Another chapter in scandal-plagued Opencard legacy has drawn to a close. The Prague High Court overturned the verdicts against former Prague mayor Tomáš Hudeček (formerly TOP 09) and three others in a case related to the contracts for Opencard.

Opencard was a Prague public transit card launched under then-mayor Pavel Bém in 2007. It was the subject of several lawsuits and trials due to the contracts being disadvantageous to the city.

The card has since been replaced by Lítačka.

The judges ruled that the Prague City Court had reached the wrong legal conclusion in the case against Hudeček. The court did not deal with the case of former mayor Bohuslav Svoboda ODS) because his prosecution was interrupted due to parliamentary immunity.

A spokesperson of the Municipal Court in Prague said the Prague High Court overturned the 2016 verdicts over four people. Besides Hudeček, they were former councilor for informatics Eva Vorlíčková (formerly TOP 09), former councilor for transport Josef Nosek (formerly ODS) and Department of Informatics former director Jan Teska. Ten other defendants were previously exonerated.

The High Court ruled on returning the case in September, but it was unclear what the reasoning was.

The Municipal Court has to summon all the participants and then comment on the change. The Municipal Court, though, is bound by the High Court ruling. The Municipal Court is expected to reconvene Dec. 17.

The case concerns allegedly unfavorable contracts with Haguess, the then owner of the rights to Opencard. The Prague City Court concluded that the five defendants, including Svoboda, failed to analyze the situation in which the contract was awarded, seek alternatives, and evaluate its risks and costs. The defendants were alleged to have favored Haguess, thereby infringing the rules on competition and the obligation to administer foreign assets.

The defendants said the Opencard project had been a problem since the time of then-mayor Pavel Bém's (ODS) and they were bound by previously concluded licensing agreements.

The replacement card Lítačka was launched in early 2016 by Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO), but some Opencards will remain valid until 2020. It is no longer possible to extend the validation of the cards. New Opencards have not been issued since 2016, and the operation center for the card has been closed.

“Definitely we are closing the system on which the Opencard was issued and it basically means the absolute end to the whole story that cost Prague was Kč 1.7 billion. The system is no longer need, and I'm glad that we operate the excellently proven Lítačka, which also continues to develop,” Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO) said on the City Hall website earlier this year.

Lítačka is valid on the metro, bus, tram and the funicular up to Petřín. The card also functions as a library card and can be used for a discount at several museums and tourist attractions. Due to EU privacy rules, the card can be issued anonymously.

Lítačka cards are supplied by the firm XT-Card and the system is administered by municipal firm Operátor ICT.

Unlike with Opencard, the city has access to Lítačka data and can use it for planning purposes.

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