News Amnesty authorship dispute heading for court

22-08-2014 11:46 | Daniela Lazarová

Lawyer Pavel Hasenkopf and the Office of the President have failed to reach an out-of-court settlement on a drawn-out dispute over the authorship of ex-president Václav Klaus’ controversial 2013 amnesty, the ctk news agency reports. Pavel Hasenkopf, who filed a law suit against the president’s office for claiming that he was one of the authors of the amnesty, has decided to push ahead with a court battle saying that the claim had badly damaged his reputation. The amnesty which Vaclav Klaus declared at the end of his second term in office saw the release of over 111,000 prisoners and halted the prosecution of a number of high-profile cases of large-scale corruption and financial fraud.

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Man shoots himself dead with pen gun at police station

21-11-2014 12:45 | Jan Richter

A 57-year-old man shot himself dead with a pen gun at a police station in Úpice, in north Bohemia, on Thursday night, a police spokeswoman said. The man, who was detained during an attempted robbery, was inebriated at the time of the arrest. He asked to use the toilet at the police station where he shot himself in the chest with a concealed pen gun, instantly killing himself, the spokeswoman said. The case is being investigated by the Czech police’ internal affairs department. 

Memorial to Iron Curtain victims unveiled in Mikulov

21-11-2014 12:22 | Jan Richter

A memorial entitled the Gate to Freedom dedicated to the victims of the Iron Curtain was unveiled near the south Moravian border town of Mikulov on Thursday. The monument has the form of 53 vertical iron bars, each bearing the name of a person who died on the Czech-Austrian border during communism. Besides Czechs, some of the victims were from East Germany, Poland and Austria; they were shot dead by Czechoslovakia’s border guards or killed by electricity in the border fence or land mines. The monument was erected by a Czech NGO in cooperation with two Austrian towns, and was partly paid for by the EU. 

Lítvínov man charged with vote-buying

21-11-2014 12:17 | Jan Richter

The police in the north Bohemian town of Litvínov have charged a 24-year-old man with interfering with the election process. The man allegedly offered money and free food and entertainment to dozens of people in the town in exchange for their voting for an unspecified political party during the local elections held last month. However, the town’s elected representation is unaffected by the case as the results of the vote have not been contested. 

Ukrainian Foreign Ministry protests against President Zeman’s statements

21-11-2014 09:33 | Daniela Lazarová

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry on Thursday summoned the Czech Ambassador to Kiev Ivan Počuch to protest against some of President Zeman’s recent statements relating to Ukraine. The ministry did not specify which statements it found offensive, but said the Czech president’s evaluation of the crisis in Ukraine was “unacceptable” and undermined the two countries’ traditionally good relations. According to the Ukrainian news agency Unian the ministry was referring to statements that Mr. Zeman made in a recent interview for Russian television in which he described the situation in Ukraine as a civil war and criticized the EU sanctions against Russia. 

Czech PM to push for better coordinated Czech foreign policy

21-11-2014 09:32 | Daniela Lazarová

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said President Miloš Zeman should consult his foreign policy statements with the government before going public with them. At the end of his four day visit to the United States the Czech prime minister said he would push for a better coordinated Czech foreign policy stressing that it was important for the country’s leading officials to take a common and comprehensible stand on key foreign policy issues. Mr. Sobotka said he would initiate a meeting with the Czech head of state to discuss some of his controversial statements over the past four weeks. President Zeman has come under fire at home and abroad for his statements on the EU sanctions against Russia, the crisis in Ukraine and Pussy Riot, among others. 

Czech students top in computer literacy tests

20-11-2014 17:21 | Daniela Lazarová

Czech eighth-graders have come out top in the ICILS international test in computer literacy, the Education Minister Marcel Chládek said at a press briefing in Prague on Thursday. Students from Ontario province came second and Australian students third. 3,200 students from 170 Czech schools took part in the test. 

Police crack down on people smuggling ring

20-11-2014 17:19 | Daniela Lazarová

The Czech police have detained five Vietnamese nationals suspected of smuggling their compatriots to European countries within an international raid against people smugglers, Pavel Hanták, spokesman for the Czech police unit fighting organised crime, said on Thursday. Across Europe 26 people smugglers were arrested and 15 illegal migrants detained. All the five foreigners arrested in the Czech Republic were accused of organising illegal border crossings for which they may face up to eight years in prison each. According to Europol the gang smuggled Vietnamese citizens mainly to Britain, the Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany and Poland and it received 10,000 to 15,000 euros from each illegal migrant. The gang started smuggling people in 2013 or even earlier and it used forged passports and other false documents. 

Finance Ministry files criminal complaint against Teaching Hospital in Ostrava

20-11-2014 16:00 | Daniela Lazarová

The Finance Ministry has filed a criminal complaint against the Teaching Hospital in Ostrava over what is describes as the overpriced purchase of a cyber-knife. The Finance Ministry which has criticized an alleged lack of transparency in health spending, claims that at 200 million crowns the cyber knife was grossly overpriced and could have been acquired at half the price. Finance Minister Andrej Babiš said on Thursday that his past conflict with Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček, who managed the hospital at the time of the purchase, was unrelated to the ministry’s decision to file the complaint. 

Doctors warn of higher incidence of whooping cough

20-11-2014 14:39 | Daniela Lazarová

The health authorities warn that there has been a significant increase in the number of patients with whooping cough around the country. In the first ten months of this year doctors registered 2,188 cases which is threefold the number registered in the same period last year. They say the actual number of people who may have contracted the disease is likely to be much higher since people with lighter symptoms don’t seek treatment and spread the disease further. In the Czech Republic babies undergo compulsory vaccination against the disease, but the vaccine is only effective for up to 12 years at the most. 

Eleven schools in Zlin region closed due to bomb threat

20-11-2014 12:57 | Daniela Lazarová

The police closed eleven secondary schools in the Zlín region on Thursday due to a bomb threat. The schools received e-mails warning of an explosion due to take place on Friday morning. The schools as well as nearby offices and flats have been evacuated and pyrotechnics experts are searching the premises. The police are taking the warning seriously and the schools in question will remain closed on Friday. If the author of the mails is detected they could face up to three years in jail for scaremongering. 

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