News Czech priest and academic Tomáš Halík receives Templeton religious award

13-03-2014 17:47 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Roman Catholic priest and professor Tomáš Halík has received the 2014 Templeton Prize, a UK-based award for “progress toward research or discoveries about spiritual realities”. The organisers said Monsignor Halík, who is 65, had risked imprisonment for illegally advancing religious and cultural freedoms after the Soviet invasion of his country, and had since become a leading international advocate for dialogue among different faiths and non-believers. The Templeton Prize comes with a monetary award of about USD 1.8 million.

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Babiš: Prague should consider lawsuit over EU refugee quotas

27-11-2015 17:21 updated | Ian Willoughby

The Czech Republic should consider following Slovakia in filing a lawsuit against the European Union over compulsory refugee quotas, the country’s minister of finance, Andrej Babiš, said on Friday. The ANO chief described the quota system as nonsensical and unworkable and said he would discuss the matter with cabinet colleagues. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, who opposed the quotas but accepted an EU vote on the matter, said he could not understand Mr. Babiš’s change of view on the subject. 

Reported metal thefts fall by over half after ban on cash payment

27-11-2015 16:31 | Ian Willoughby

The number of reported crimes in the Czech Republic involving the theft of metals decreased by over half between March and November compared to the same period last year. Police recorded just over 8,000 such crimes in those months in 2014; this year the figure was slightly more than 3,400, according to the Ministry for the Environment. Officials said the fall was connected to an edict issued on March 1 barring the payment of cash for metals. 

Sobotka meets Chinese PM Li in Beijing at end of official visit

27-11-2015 14:50 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, has met his Chinese counterpart, Li Cheng, at the close of a week-long official visit to the world’s most populous state. Twelve memoranda and contracts on cooperation in healthcare, sport and other areas were signed in the presence of the two men at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Friday. Mr. Sobotka told reporters that cooperation between the two states was constantly evolving, particularly in the healthcare field. 

Court rules red boxers protest group will not face trial

27-11-2015 13:46 | Ian Willoughby

An art group who protested against President Miloš Zeman by replacing the president’s flag at Prague Castle with a huge pair of red boxer shorts will not face punishment, Czech Television reported on Friday, quoting an official at the Prague Municipal Court. In a closed hearing earlier this week the court confirmed that members of the Ztohoven group should not stand trial. A district court had previously decided that they should not face punishment but the verdict was appealed by the state attorney. 

Sobotka: Czech Republic important partner for China within framework of EU

27-11-2015 12:08 | Ian Willoughby

Though the two states are incomparable in terms of size of economy and population, the Czech Republic is an important partner for China within the framework of the European Union, says the Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka. Mr. Sobotka made the comment during a trip to the Hebei province on the final day of a week-long official visit to China. He said Czech agricultural equipment had been sent to Hebei in the 1950s and since then people there had followed events in the Czech Republic. Mr. Sobotka is heading a large delegation including three ministers and numerous Czech business people. 

Prague court gives 15-year sentence to imprisoned crime boss Krejčíř

27-11-2015 12:01 | Ian Willoughby

Czech crime boss Radovan Krejčíř has been sentenced to 15 years in prison by a court in Prague for attempting to asset-strip the company Čepro and plotting the murder of a customs officer. Mr. Krejčíř is currently behind bars in South Africa after being found guilty of attempted murder and drug possession. He was previously found guilty in the Czech Republic of massive tax evasion and other crimes. The 47-year-old fled the country in 2005 after managing to escape during a police raid of his home. 

Seven charged over overcharging of tourists for taxi rides

27-11-2015 11:37 | Ian Willoughby

Police in Prague have charged seven people in connection with overcharging tourists for taxi rides in the capital. Six of them are taxi drivers and the seventh is an official at City Hall suspected of taking bribes to leak information on planned checks, a spokesperson for the police said on Friday. The seven are facing charges of conspiracy to defraud. The police arrested the taxi drivers earlier this week. It was the first time they had taken such action in connection with overcharging. 

Prague council votes to ban all gaming bars

27-11-2015 11:27 | Ian Willoughby

The Prague council has voted to ban all gaming bars in the city. Some 212 such bars, which contain gambling machines, are to be closed down. Around 100 establishments designated casinos will be allowed to remain in place. The city will cease issuing or extending licenses for gaming bars from the start of January and they will all gradually go out of business. The original motion put forward by the mayor of Prague, Adriana Krnáčová, envisaged a reduction in the number of gaming bars allowed in the capital. However, councillors made sweeping changes to her proposal ahead of a vote on Thursday evening. 

Mixed results for Czech clubs in Europa league

27-11-2015 09:36 | Ruth Fraňková

The Czech football club Sparta will continue in the Europa League in the spring, after defeating the Greek club Asteras Tripolis 1:0 in Prague on Thursday night. The same evening, Viktoria Pilsen lost a chance to advance after losing 2:1 to Dinamo Minsk. Liberec also lost – 2:1 – to the Portuguese team Bragga but still has a chance to advance: the team needs to win its final group stage match against Marseille. 

Chinese investors to build huge spa complex in South Moravia

27-11-2015 09:36 | Ruth Fraňková

Chinese investors are planning to build a huge spa complex in South Moravia, the region’s governor Michal Hašek, who is accompanying the Czech PM on his ongoing visit to China, said on Friday. The spa in the town of Pasohlávky is expected to cost about two billion crowns (around 80 million euros) and should create about 500 new jobs. The new complex is to be completed by the end of 2018. 


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