Sirens sounded and bells tolled across the Czech Republic at midday on Thursday in homage to the four Czech soldiers who were killed in a bomb attack near the Bagram airport in Afghanistan on Tuesday. A fifth Czech who was seriously injured has been operated on again in hospital and is said to be in a stable but serious condition. He will not be able to return home for at least 10 days.
The bodies of the four in coffins draped with the national flag were airlifted back to Prague’s Kbely military airport on Thursday afternoon. President Miloš Zeman, Defense Ministry officials and members of the soldiers’ special unit were present to pay their respects. Flags have been being flown at half mast and candles light. All four soldiers will be awarded medals for bravery in memoriam. President Zeman said the men’s actions in Afghanistan helped protect civilians from attack at home and that was the main significance of their sacrifice.
Parachutists from the brigade in Chrudim, eastern Bohemia, where three of the four dead soldiers were based will start a public collection. Money collected will be divided between the families of the bereaved.
Czech media reported Thursday mounting pressure to select a new European Commissioner as other countries have already made their choice and deals over the hand out of portfolio’s start. The two main government parties, the Social Democrats and ANO, have each put forward their own candidates and in recent weeks have refused to concede. The daily Mladá fronta Dnes reported that one option that has surfaced is to keep current Czech commission Štefan Füle on. Another possibility might be ANO Minister for Regional Development Věra Jourová, be nominated for the post,it said. The business daily Hospodářské Noviny said a vote in the Cabinet might be called for in which the chances would increase that Social Democrat nominee Pavel Mertík would win.
The Czech Republic has been criticized by the European Commission along with 17 other countries for failing to take steps for reorganizing its airspace management in line with European rules aimed at establishing more efficient and cheaper routes for planes. The decade old European rules calls for countries to cooperate by organising air traffic in functional blocks instead of along more traditional national lines. Czech neighbours Poland and Slovakia are also fingered for failing to make the required changes.
Two Czech children are reported to have been seriously injured in a boat collision off the island of Hvar in Croatia, local media have reported. The two girls, both under the age of ten, are reported to have been airlifted to a hospital in Split in serious condition. The slobodnadalmacia.hr news site says one of them underwent brain surgery and both remain in intensive care.
A European court has failed to give a clear ruling on a Czech case focused on whether a property owner has the right to install and surveillance cameras and make use of the footage. The case has ended up before the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg after a journalist in Tábor installed cameras after persistent attacks on his house. Footage of two suspects breaking into his home was captured in 2007 and they were identified as a result. But the home owner was then fined by the Office for Protection of Personal Data because the cameras took in part of a public street as well. The advocate general pushed back the case to Czech courts saying that they would have to decide whether the use of the cameras was an exceptional circumstance which took precedence over privacy.
Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has continued his tour of ministries with a visit to the Ministry of Transport and its head Antonín Prachař on Thursday. Prachař said that work on the D11 motorway from Prague to Hradec Králové and onwards to Trutnov and the Polish border should start in a few weeks. Effects of a landslide which disrupted work on the D8 motorway to Teplice should be dealt with by the end of the year, the minister added. There was no need to change the planned route of the motorway, he added. Mr. Sobotka stressed the importance of a high speed rail link between Prague and Munich, adding that there was a lot of room for rail services to neighbouring Germany to be improved.
Czech film actor, scriptwriter, director, and writer Zdeněk Svěrák ws awarded the president’s prize at the International Karlovy Vary Film Festival on Thursday for his lifetime contribution to cinema. The 78-year-old Czech, who won an Oscar in 1996 for the film Kolya in which he starred and directed, was given a standing ovation at the presentation in the spa town. Svěrák, whose films often contain a large dose of humour, said laughter was the main reward for his work.
Police in South Bohemia say they have caught a gang responsible for stealing a total of around 30 cars, motorbikes, and tractors. The apprehended men are aged between 29 and 40 and could face prison sentences of up to eight years if they are found guilty. Goods were stolen almost daily and many of the vehicles were broken up and sold as spares. For the tractors though, documents were falsified and the group sought to sell them to farmers. The dauntless gang also apparently stole even from the police, with an engine from a car driven by a policemen found mounted in one of the alleged ringleader’s vehicles.
A jackal has been shot by a hunter near Kunín in the eastern Moravia-Silesia region. The hunter apparently mistook the animal for a fox. It is the first time that a jackal has been found in the part of the Czech Republic though they have been spotted in the past in South Moravia and in Central Bohemia. The jackal is now set to be preserved and put on show at the local museum in Nový Jičín.
The remains of the four Czech soldiers killed in Tuesday’s suicide bombing in Afghanistan will be flown back to the Czech Republic on Thursday. The government special is expected to arrive at Kbely airport around 13 pm CET. President Miloš Zeman, Defense Ministry officials and members of the soldiers’ special unit will be present to pay their respects. Flags are being flown at half mast and at noon bells will toll and sirens will sound around the country in their memory. All four soldiers will be awarded medals for bravery in memoriam.