News Customs officers detain foreign national for ivory smuggling
Customs officers detained a foreign national at Prague’s Václav Havel Airport earlier this week, who had tried to smuggle 24 kilos of ivory on the Prague – Seoul route. The information was released on Friday by the spokeswoman for the Czech Environment Inspection office. The ivory, tusks from the protected African elephant, had been sawed down to size: fifteen pieces which had been wrapped individually and hidden in two pieces of luggage. It is the third time this year that an ivory smuggler at Václav Havel Airport has been caught.
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Checks at the border between the Czech Republic and Germany will be stepped up, minister of interior Milan Chovanec has announced. The minister said the reason for the move was the fear that unsuccessful asylum applicants in Germany might seek to move to neighbouring countries rather than be sent back to their countries of origin. The Czech minister highlighted recent comments from some German politicians that hundreds of failed applicants will be returned. He added that Czech police already had pinpointed areas where they could try and cross the border illegally.
A court in Zlín on Wednesday threw out charges against five people from two arms firms connected with the explosion of munitions at a depot in Vrbětice in the far south east of the country. Two explosions at the site late in 2014 resulted in two deaths. Some of the accused had been facing prison sentences of up to 12 years storing illegal arms. The two companies involved in the proceedings were arms company Excalibar Army and trading company Real Trade Praha.
The Czech Cabinet on Wednesday approved changes to the country’s criminal code which better define the acts of financing and propagating terrorism and the penalties attached. The proposed changes will result in a maximum 12 year prison sentence for financing terrorism and the confiscation of all assets. A speedy passage through parliament has been urged. Separately, Minister of Interior Milan Chovanec outlined precise steps to be taken in reaction to various stages of terror alert. The moves are largely inspired from the practices in the US and Israel.
The biggest car maker in the Czech Republic, Škoda Auto, has reported a 4.6 percent rise in car deliveries in the first half of the year compared with the first six months of 2015. The total came to just over 569,000. The main reasons are strong demand in the key European and Chinese markets and good figures for the down market Fabia and up market Yeti and Superb models. Sales in June eased slightly but were still 4.4 percent higher year on year. Deliveries to China were 12 percent up on the same month a year earlier.
The Czech Republic’s biggest mineral water company, Karlovarské mineralní vody (KMV), has boosted turnover in the first half of the year by 21 percent compared with the same period in 2015. The total turnover for the six months came to 3.6 billion crowns. Operating profit climbed by 30 percent. The strong performance is due to growing demand for spring and bottled water. As well the core activities in the Czech Republic, the family owned company based on Karlovy Vary also has mineral water also operations in Hungary and Austria.
The head of the second biggest party in the Czech government, Andrej Babiš of ANO, says he is opposed to accepting any refugees from Turkey under a European Union scheme. The minister of finance and deputy prime minister wrote on his Facebook page that he did not believe such refugees could be integrated into Czech society. Attempting to do so would be a huge risk in view of the atrocities carried out in Germany by people denied asylum, Mr. Babiš said. It was reported on Tuesday that the Czech Republic would take in 80 refugees from Turkey and 10 from Greece. ANO have consistently led in opinion polls for some time.
The French president, Francois Hollande, has cancelled a planned visit to Prague on Wednesday in the wake of Tuesday’s brutal killing of a priest in a church near Rouen in an attack claimed by Islamic State. Mr. Hollande had been due to visit the Czech capital last week but cancelled that trip after a terrorist attack in Nice on Bastille Day that left 84 dead. The French leader will speak to Czech President Miloš Zeman by telephone on Wednesday, the latter’s spokesperson said.
Czech football title-holders Viktoria Plzeň could only manage a 0:0 home draw with Quarabag of Azerbaijan in the first leg of their Champions League third qualifying round tie on Tuesday night. A score draw or win in next week’s return leg would see Plzeň through to the final qualifying round for the prestigious competition. Sparta Prague, meanwhile, drew 1:1 at home with Romanian side Steaua Bucharest at the same stage of qualification.
A Czech tourist died on Tuesday after being struck by lightning in the Western Tatra Mountains in Slovakia, the local mountain service said. The man, who was aged 36 and came from the Moravian town of Kroměříž, was hit while on the ridge between the Predný Salatín and Brestová mountains and could not be revived after sustaining a serious head injury.
The Czech Republic will take in 80 Syrian migrants in Turkish refugee camps per the European Union’s agreement with Turkey, Czech daily Lidové noviny reports. The newspaper cited Czech Interior Ministry spokeswoman Hana Malá as confirming the move. The exact date of their arrival was not specified but they are expected in the Czech Republic sometime in October. Two weeks ago the Czech Republic received files on Syrian refugees interested in applying for asylum from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees; vetting is being conducted by the security services. Ten refugees from camps in Greece will also be accepted under the EU scheme.