News European Parliament chairman highlights challenges facing institutions

11-04-2014 11:58 | Chris Johnstone

The chairman of the European Parliament has said that Brussels institutions should consider transferring more powers and responsibilities to national states and regions. Martin Schulz was speaking at the start of a three day visit to the Czech Republic and on Friday opened a conference marking the upcoming 10th anniversary of Czech membership of the EU. Europe was a work in progress and had deficits in the areas of democracy and fairness, Schulz said in his speech. The anniversary of EU accession takes place on May 1.

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Rare iron age burial site discovered in Prague

28-01-2015 14:21 | Chris Johnstone

Archeologists says they have found a rare burial site in Prague dating from the seventh or eighth century BC. The two graves apparently belonged to highly placed members of society given the rich hoard of effects found in the burial chambers. The effects include the remains of the burial carriage and equipment used by horses during the iron age. Only one similar burial site to the latest discovery at Letňany has been made previously in Prague and that was more than a century ago. 

Lucie Šafářová reaches women’s doubles final at Australian Open

28-01-2015 14:20 updated | Chris Johnstone

Czech tennis player Lucie Šafářová has reached the women’s doubles finals at the Australian Open. Together with US partner Bethanie Mattek Sands, she cruised to an easy 6:0 win against German opponents Julie Görges and Anna-Lena Grönefeld in the first set before the pair conceded. In the final the Czech-American pair will face Taiwan’s Yung-Jan Chan and China’s Jie Zheng. 

Škoda Auto prepares transfer of up to 800 workers

28-01-2015 11:54 | Chris Johnstone

The Czech Republic’s biggest car maker, Škoda Auto, is preparing itself for tougher times and a downfall in demand in spite of its record breaking year in 2014. The company is reported by the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes on Wednesday to be preparing a programme whereby hundreds of workers will be transferred and become contract workers for external companies. The move, affecting up to 800 workers, is part of an organizational shake up under which Škoda Auto focuses on manufacturing cars and other activities are spun off to external companies. Unions say they are prepared to strike over the move. 

Train crashes into landslide in north Bohemia

28-01-2015 11:53 | Chris Johnstone

Nine people were injured when a train collided with boulders which fell on the track during a landslide near Semíly in north-east Bohemia. The train driver was the worst casualty and was helicoptered from the accident scene to the hospital at Liberec. Accident investigators said he had no chance to brake the train in time. The line is expected to be closed for the whole day. 

Bavarian police say pervitin haul down in 2014

28-01-2015 11:52 | Chris Johnstone

Bavarian police say they intercepted 15 kilogrammes of pervitin which traffickers tried to pass across the Czech border last year. That total is down by half compared with the total intercepted in 2013, but around the same levels as 2012. But German police say the intensity of drugs being shipped across the border has not diminished. Rather, the hike in pervitin seizures in 2013 resulted from a massive police clampdown on trafficking that year. 

Investigation after wrongly mixed medicine almost kills babies

28-01-2015 09:29 | Ian Willoughby

Police in Hradec Králové, have concluded an investigation into an incident at a hospital in the East Bohemian city in which new-born babies were given wrongly mixed medicine that almost caused their deaths. Three babies were given a preparation containing several times the prescribed amount of the barbiturate phenobarbital at the turn of August and September last year. A police spokesperson said the babies had been saved by the timely intervention of a doctor at the hospital. The case was first treated as a serious criminal act but investigators concluded it had been due to accident. 

Minister aims to make justice system cheaper and more effective within four years

28-01-2015 09:19 | Ian Willoughby

The minister of justice, Helena Válková, says she wants to introduce reforms within a maximum of four years that will make the Czech justice system cheaper and more effective. Minister Válková outlined her vision in a meeting with the new chairman of the Supreme Court, Pavel Šámal; he told journalists afterwards that the most important issue surrounding the reform would be the number of courts of first instance. Justice Šámal said some such courts were very small and created problems both in terms of staffing and the exercise of justice. 

Holocaust survivors and politicians attend memorial ceremony at Terezín

27-01-2015 19:00 | Ian Willoughby

Scores of survivors and dozens of chairpersons and deputy chairpersons of European parliaments attended a ceremony honouring victims of the Holocaust at the former Terezín concentration camp in Central Bohemia on Tuesday. The event was timed to coincide with a ceremony at Auschwitz marking the 70th anniversary of its liberation. The Nazis transported up to 100,000 Jews from Terezín to Auschwitz and other death camps between 1940 and 1945, while around a fifth of those interned in Terezín met their deaths there. 

Zaorálek slams Zeman's idea of unified military action against Islamic terrorists

27-01-2015 16:44 | Ian Willoughby

The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, has expressed strong opposition to the kind of joint military action against Islamic terrorism proposed on Tuesday by President Miloš Zeman. In a statement, Mr. Zaorálek asked whether a “crusade” should be launched, and if so against whom and where. “Against Jihadist groups from Senegal to Somalia, against Libya, Yemen or Pakistan? Nonsense!” wrote the minister. Mr. Zaorálek said Muslims needed to take a leading role in curing the cancer of radical Islamic ideology. He said Arabs in particular should demonstrate that murder and terror are not the true face of Islam, adding that he did not believe in further Western military intervention in Syria, Iraq, or “God knows where”. Earlier Mr. Zeman had warned of a “super-holocaust” leaving hundreds of millions dead if Islamic State was not stopped. 

Prague's Werich Villa to become Voskovec and Werich Arts and Social Centre

27-01-2015 13:19 | Ian Willoughby

A famous villa on Prague's Kampa is set to become the Voskovec and Werich Arts and Social Centre in honour of the great Czech actors Jan Werich (who lived there) and Jiří Voskovec. It will be operated by the Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation. The authorities in Prague 1 voted on Tuesday to rent the Werich Villa to the organisation for CZK 600,000 a year on a 10-year contract with the option of another 10-year term when the first comes to an end. The future of the building had been the subject of speculation since 2002, when it was damaged in flooding. 

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