News Daily: Czech who travelled to Ukraine to fight alongside pro-Russian separatists could face legal trouble at home
A Czech national who appeared in a broadcast on Russian television taking part in a pro-Russian demonstration in Ukraine, could face legal difficulties upon his return home, the Czech daily Mladá fronta Dnes reports. In the video, the man - dressed in battle fatigues - introduced himself as Ivo Stjeskal from Brno and claimed he had travelled to Ukraine to help fight alongside pro-Russian separatists defending Donbas. The Czech daily points out that the national, reportedly a former elementary school gym teacher, was not only required to respect Ukrainian but also Czech law. According to the Czech Justice Ministry, the Czech may have broken the law by illegally serving in a foreign army, a crime which carries a potential five-year sentence.
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In the National Hockey League on Tuesday, the Montreal Canadiens won their
third straight game, downing Tampa Bay by a score of 4:2. The Habs are
inching towards a final wild card berth for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Tomáš Plekanec played a key role in the match, scoring twice and earning
two assists. Afterwards, Plekanec was named the first star; the Czech
forward has picked up a total of seven points in three games.
In other action, Jaromír Jágr scored for Florida against Buffalo, putting him two points off third-place Brett Hull (retired) for all-time NHL career goals. The Panthers beat the Sabres by a score of 7:4.
Fifteen thousand people involved in traffic accidents in the Czech Republic last year fled the scene, Czech Television reported on Wednesday. Police say one in six motorists implicated in collisions drove away. There were 14 hit-and-run incidents involving death and 58 involving serious injury. Motorists caught fleeing the scene receive a seven-point penalty on their licence; however, driving away from an injured person is regarded as a crime and can result in a five-year jail term.
Eleven prisoners at a jail in Pardubice, east Bohemia were taken to hospital on Tuesday after being poisoned. A spokesperson for the regional emergency services said two of the prisoners, who are under guard at the hospital, were in a serious condition. Czech Television reported that the inmates had apparently deliberately overdosed on medication intended for heart arrhythmia. Two of them had to be resuscitated.
It seems unlikely that the flow of refugees from Turkey can be halted completely, the Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, said on Tuesday. Speaking in the Turkish city of Izmir, the minister said most refugees currently in the country were willing to try to reach Europe at virtually any cost. Mr. Zaorálek said, however, that conditions could be created in Turkey that would deter migrants from attempting a dangerous crossing of the Aegean Sea. The Czech Republic is donating CZK 10 million to Turkey to help its refugee aid programme.
The opposition Civic Democrats have called for the sacking of the minister of defence, Martin Stropnický of ANO, in connection with the leak of classified information over five Czechs abducted in Lebanon who were released last week. Civic Democrats party chief Petr Fiala said Mr. Stropnický had to go as he recently publicly admitted that the Czechs had been exchanged for Lebanese citizens wanted in the US on terrorism charges. Another opposition party, TOP 09, said the government’s poor handling of kidnappings would threaten Czech citizens’ safety for some years.
Last year the Czech Republic drew nearly CZK 152 billion more from the European Union than it paid into the bloc, according to figures released by the Ministry of Finance on Tuesday. It was the highest such gap since the country joined the EU in May 2004. The Czech Republic drew a total of CZK 157 billion from the union’s Structural and Cohesion Funds, as well as receiving CZK 31 billion under the Common Agricultural Policy. Since its accession the Czech Republic has contributed CZK 429 billion to the EU’s coffers and received CZK 990 billion.
Prague saw a year-on-year increase in tourist numbers of 7.8 percent in 2015, according to data published on Tuesday by the Czech Statistics Office. Around 6.8 million visitors were registered in the Czech capital last year, with almost 5.7 million of them coming from abroad. Tourist overnight stays totalled 15.9 million in 2015, which also represented a 7.8 percent rise.
The National Security Authority will investigate the State Security Council over the possible leaking of information, the news website Echo24.cz reported. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka called for the investigation after details of the government’s actions with regard to Czechs held hostage in Lebanon and Pakistan were made public. The weekly Respekt reported that the state paid USD 6 million for the release of two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan, while details have also emerged with regard to the freeing of five Czechs abducted in Lebanon and the subsequent release of a Lebanese man in custody in Prague. The State Security council is composed of several ministers and other senior public officials.
Former Brno police chief Jaroslav Přikryl has failed in an appeal against an 18-month jail term for quashing the fines of acquaintances and misusing personal data in police files. Mr. Přikryl – once spoken about as a possible national police president – missed the date he was due to begin serving his sentence, claiming health problems. He was found guilty of quashing traffic fines handed out to 20 acquaintances.
Security expert Adam Dolník says it is untrue that one of two Czech women kidnapped in Pakistan for over two years attempted to return to her abductors. Quoting the Czech security services, the weekly Respekt wrote on Monday that Hana Humpálová was stopped at the Turkish border while attempting to reach Pakistan in the autumn. Speaking to Lidovky.cz, Mr. Dolník also said that reporting how much the Czech state paid for the pair’s release would endanger others by raising the expectations of kidnappers. Respekt has defended its actions in reporting that the government handed over USD 6 million for the women’s release.