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22-04-2014 19:10 | Jan Velinger

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Canadian foreign minister assures Prague there are no plans for reintroducing visas

Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird has assured Prague that Canada is not planning on reintroducing visas for Czech citizens; he made the point in a meeting with his Czech counterpart Lubomír Zaorálek in Prague on Tuesday. Canada reinstated visas in 2009 after registering a rise in asylum seekers from the Czech Republic; the visas were only lifted last November. Czech Foreign Minister Zaorálek said the former visas had been a barrier to broader cooperation between Canada and the Czech Republic. Mr Baird confirmed it would be difficult to boost trade and investment were visas still in place, noting that Canada signed an historic trade agreement with the EU last year.

Interior Ministry fined for released Nagyová footage

The country's Interior Ministry has been given a 60 thousand crown fine by the Office for Personal Data Protection for making public footage of the arrest of Jana Nagyová (now Nečasová) last year. In December, footage of the arrest was aired on a popular Sunday debate programme on Czech TV. Nagyová, along with her husband, former prime minister Petr Nečas as well as a former key aide, face bribery charges - the exchange of lucrative posts for three former MPs for not toppling the former government. The Office for Personal Data Protection said that releasing footage of Nagyová's arrest was not justifiable in the public interest. Robert Šlachta, the head of the anti-organised crime unit who released the footage, said he did not believe he had broken the law; he stressed he had wanted the footage to be seen to prove the arrest had been by the book.

State reaches agreement with NWR

The Czech state has reached an agreement with New World Resources to help wind down operations of its Paskov black coal mine: mining at the site will continue for three more years before it will be due to close and the government will provide 600 million crowns for social programmes for miners. The matter will be discussed at the cabinet level next week, the Minister for Industry and Trade Jan Mládek confirmed. The state will have to honour its end of the agreement only as long as the mine is kept running until 2017.

ANO ahead in European elections survey

The ANO party has emerged on top of a new survey of voters preferences ahead of the European elections. Some 22,2 percent of voters would back the party according to the poll, conducted by Herzmann and Data Collect; the Social Democrats would receive 14.1 percent of the vote, followed by the Communists with 11.1 percent. The TOP 09, Dawn and Civic Democrat parties would also win seats in the European Parliament, the survey suggests. Just over 32 percent of eligible voters would turn out at the polls. Voting for the European Parliament is scheduled for May 23 and 24; over 850 candidates are running for 21 seats reserved for MEPs from the Czech Republic.

Tram at Wenceslas Square still a possibility

Prague city councilors have kept open the possibility of a tramline one day being reintroduced at the city’s popular St. Wenceslas Square, passing changes in the metropolitan plan for future developments. Originally, there was opposition to the idea within the assembly and from Prague 1. The potential route was modified, however, only to reach the top of the square from the city’s Vinohrady district, before veering off and traveling to the city’s main railway hub. If the route were introduced it would not traverse the length of the square as some had hoped. Changes would have to be made to the city’s Magistrala throughway to allow for the tram.

Body found in Orlický reservoir

Crime investigators found the body of a murder victim at the Orlický reservoir near the Czech castle Zvíkov it was revealed on Tuesday. The victim was found at the beginning of the month, when the police were investigating another murder. The body was bound by a chain attached to a heavier item and is believed to have been in the water for at least two years; the man is believed to have been between the age of 32 and 42.The police are asking anyone with possible knowledge for help. In the past, investigators found a number of bodies at the reservoir. The most infamous series of murders dates back to the early 1990s, when the bodies of three businessmen were thrown into the basin. Two had been dismembered and stuffed into barrels topped with lye.

Punk guitarist among four arrested for heroin production

Police arrested four people at the beginning of April involved in the ‘old school’ production of the illicit drug heroin – cooking the drug from handpicked, dried and ground poppy plants at a house in Kolín, east of Prague. According to the police, the main coordinator in production and distribution is 43-year-old Jan Jukl, the guitarist for punk band Plexis, together with his girlfriend. News website idnes reported that both were themselves users. The production of heroin in the Czech Republic is rare; according to idnes, 95 percent of the drug comes from abroad - Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries in Asia. The gang also produced and sold marijuana and sold the Czech methamphetamine pervetin, bought from a third party.

Man sentenced to 20 years for murder

Prague’s Municipal Court sentenced a 27-year-old to 20 years in prison for the murder of his mother using a hockey stick and a sharp unspecified item last year. The murder took place at her home in September. The man admitted guilt but denied money was a motive. The suspect took 40 thousand crowns from the victim’s purse after hiding the body in the attic. He was arrested by the police who had been notified by a close relative. Psychologists who examined the murderer indicated he could not be reformed; the sentence can still be appealed.

Hockey: Zlín one step away from league title

Zlín beat Kometa Brno 4-1 in Czech hockey league finals in Brno on Monday night, and is leading Brno 3-0 in the best-of- seven series. Brno pushed hard for their first win but failed to convert all but one of its opportunities. The fourth game is scheduled for Tuesday night; if Zlín win, they will claim the league title for the first time in 10 years.

NHL playoffs: Plekanec goal puts MTL within one win of second round

The most storied franchise in the NHL, the Montreal Canadiens, will be looking to try and sweep the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first-round of the playoffs on Tuesday evening at the Bell Centre. On Sunday, the club got a stranglehold on the series, winning 3-2. The game-winning goal was scored by Kladno native Tomáš Plekanec.

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