News Czech foreign minister on business mission in China
The Czech foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, on Monday began a three-day visit to Beijing aimed at improving relations with China in an attempt to boost trade between the two countries and attract Chinese investors to the Czech Republic. The two sides are expected to sign a proclamation with which Prague will commit itself not to question the occupation of Tibet. The Czech government’s decision, driven by the need to diversify the country’s business interests and break its export dependence on the EU has come under fire from human rights activists. Czech government officials counter that Prague is only adopting the official EU policy line towards China. It is the first visit to Beijing by a Czech foreign minister in 15 years.
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Minister of Culture Daniel Herman led a commemoration on Friday at the site of the World War Two Lety internment camp for Roma which was created in July 1942. Herman recalled that the labour and internment camp for the Roma population from Bohemia camp was run by Czech officials from the Protectorate police force and that their brutality was equal to anything carried out by the Germans. Most of those who died at the camp were children. Those who survived were sent to their deaths at Auschwitz death camp. Herman said he and minister for human rights Jiří Dienstbier were working on plans so that part of the site of the camp would no longer be a pig farm but a suitable commemorative site.
The Czech hospital at the centre of one of the worst murder cases in the country’s history does not have to pay compensation of 8.8 million crowns to the remaining family of one of the victims, a court ruled on Friday. The so-called heparin murderer Petr Zelenka worked at the hospital at Havlíčkův Brod and administered deadly doses of the anti blood clotting agent. He was convicted of murdering seven patients and trying to kill another 10 and given a life sentence. The victim’s family claimed the hospital should have reacted faster to the first suspicious cases.
Thursday’s death toll on Czech roads was the worst so far this year with seven people killed. The total death toll for July came to 68, one more than in June. Even so, last month was still an improvement on the 72 people who died on the roads in July 2013. In the first sixth months of this year 266 people died on Czech roads, 26 more than during the same period a year earlier.
Compensation of between 100,000 crowns and 150,000 is likely to be offered to women who were sterilized without their consent under a law being prepared by the minister for human rights, Jiří Dienstbier, the daily Lidový Noviny reported on Friday. The sterilizations, mostly of Roma women, took place from 1972 until 1991. Many of the woman signed forms consenting to the operations but said afterwards that they did not realize what was being proposed. The Czech Helsinki Committee estimates that around one thousand women could qualify for compensation. Some women in the past won court cases that they were wrongfully sterilized but were not awarded compensation.
New Czech laws tightening up the rules against child abuse entered into force on Friday. Two new amendments to the Criminal Code make it an offence to establish unlawful contact with minors and to participate in pornographic performances. The new offences have also been widened to cover legal entities, such as companies. Existing laws have also been bolstered, with, for example, a maximum two year prison sentence now in force for those found guilty of trying to temp children to meetings even if the encounter did not finally take place.
The Czech Republic temporarily closed its embassy in Libya on Thursday, the Foreign Ministry announced. The army’s general staff said the military had evacuated ten employees from the Czech diplomatic mission. The Czechs were joined by 11 employees from the Swiss embassy. All 21 arrived aboard a CASA C-295 M at the Prague-Kbely airport on Thursday night. The Foreign Ministry has recommended that Czechs do not travel to Libya under current circumstances. There has been increased fighting in Tripoli with the country facing the most serious upheaval since Muammar Gaddafi’s regime was toppled in 2011.
Three Czech teams faced opponents in the first leg of the Europa League’s third qualifying round on Thursday but largely fared poorly. Mladá Boleslav lost 4:1 to Lyon, while Romania’s Astra dominated over Liberec, winning 3:0. Viktorie Plzeň, who were losing to Romanian club Petrolul until extra-time managed to come back with substitute Kolář scoring late; the match finished 1:1.
Vítkovice Steel will close its Ostrava plant by September 30, 2015 at the latest, spokesman Jaromír Krisica told the Czech News Agency on Thursday. Vítkovice Steel currently employs more than 1,000 people, with 250 located at the Ostrava plant. It is not yet clear how many people will be dismissed. The company management decided to halt investments in one of its units. Without the unit, a permit which it needs for the steel plant´s operation expires on September 30 next year. Shareholders ordered the management to prepare a phase-out plan for the steel plant that will minimise the impact on employment in the region and will respect customer-supplier relations, Krisica said.
A 36-year-old Georgian national, wanted on an international arrest warrant
and regarded as highly dangerous, was apprehended on Monday at Prague’s
Václav Havel Airport, a spokeswoman for the Czech Foreigners’ Police has
revealed. The foreign national, a known drug addict and recidivist
suffering from hepatitis, travelled from Kiev using a fake Russian
passport. His luggage contained a large quantity of methadone and a device
used for monitoring individuals and their vehicles, the Czech News Agency
According to the police spokeswoman, the country’s unit for uncovering organised crime had determined beyond a doubt the suspect arrived in the country to commit a murder. The identity of his supposed target remains unknown. In the past, the wanted man served eight years in Georgia for illegal arms possession and was jailed in Russia for kidnapping. Extradition proceedings against him have been launched; he faces up to ten years in prison in his homeland.
Vandals damaged an unconventional memorial dedicated to the late Václav Havel located on campus at the University of South Bohemia in České Budějovice. Unknown perpetrators broke three of four glass decorative items on two chairs at the Václav Havel "bench", a small area designed to invite discussion. The decorative elements, like the chairs in Prague’s version, were designed by architect and friend to Mr Havel, Bořek Šípek. Police are checking data from a surveillance system to try and gain information. Besides České Budějovice and Prague, three more such memorials are located in Washington D.C., Dublin and Barcelona.