News Former US ambassador testifies in Barták case

17-03-2014 15:00 | Jan Velinger

Former US ambassador to Prague and chairman of the supervisory board at Tatra trucks William Cabaniss testified in court on Monday in the case of former defence minister Martin Barták and arms dealer Michal Smrž charged with corruption in the purchase of Tatra trucks for the Czech army. The prosecution suspects Mr Barták in his capacity as deputy defence minister in 2008 asked the truck maker’s supervisory board head for a five-million dollar bribe. Mr Barták has denied any wrongdoing. In his testimony on Monday, Mr Cabaniss said he did not remember the exact amount asked for (or the currency) but said he found the offer highly inappropriate, suggesting he was completely caught off guard. If convicted, former defence minister Barták faces up to 12 years in prison.

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Czech Republic stops detaining Syrians headed for Germany

03-09-2015 09:06 | Jan Velinger

Czech police officers will no longer detain Syrian migrants, claiming asylum in Hungary but trying to reach Germany, the foreigners’ police department has revealed. The Czech Republic has seen a growing number of refugees travelling from Hungary to the Czech Republic to try and reach their German neighbours. As of now, the Czechs will offer Syrians already registered in Hungary asylum in the Czech Republic as well; Syrian migrants who decline are to be escorted to railway stations from where will be allowed to continue their journey. 

Prague preparing to help up to 200 refugee families

03-09-2015 08:54 | Jan Velinger

Prague City Hall is preparing plans to help up to 200 refugee families, Deputy Mayor Petr Dolínek has said. The idea was presented at a council meeting on Wednesday but the city will still have to draw up details for debate. The deputy mayor indicated that security was not the only factor in the current migrant crisis but also human decency. The aim is to especially help those with the very youngest children; families would not all be located in one area but across a number of city districts. 

Foreign minister approves three million in aid for the Gaza Strip

02-09-2015 18:12 | Jan Velinger

Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek approves three million crowns in humanitarian aid for the Gaza Strip to be used in reconstruction and renewal. The funds are to proceed through UNWRA, the UN’s relief and human development agency. The Czech Republic is continuing in its policy to provide aid for the Palestine autonomous territories. 

Refugee camp goes up in Břeclav-Poštorná

02-09-2015 15:12 | Jan Velinger

Some 90 firefighters have completed putting up a refugee camp, comprising of 25 tents, in Břeclav-Poštorná to house an eventual 300 inhabitants. The camp is located at a monitored site; locals have also asked for increased security on town streets by the local police. Mayor Pavel Dominik and South Moravian governor Michal Hašek spoke to journalists, with the mayor saying that while locals were not happy about the centre it was better than migrants moving freely through the town and causing a fuss. He added the situation was “complicated but not tragic”. The town on Tuesday filed charges against an individual who tried to cause a stir by posting falsely on the internet that the camp was full with 4,000 people. The mayor stressed that it is empty at this time. 

Czech model involved in mid-air cat flap

02-09-2015 14:54 | Jan Velinger

Czech model Žaneta Hučíková was detained in Colorado recently after a mid-air flap on a flight from Las Vegas to Frankfurt, Germany. Flight attendants were alerted to the fact Ms Hučíková has smuggled a cat on board; the model reportedly interfered when the animal was locked in the restroom. The flight was subsequently diverted to Denver, escorted by F-16 fighter jets from Buckley Air Force Base. Ms Hučíková was detained after the authorities learned her visitor’s visa had expired and was ordered to appear in court. 

Number of fires in Czech Republic during summer hit record high

02-09-2015 13:39 | Jan Velinger

Firefighters were called to assist in more than 5,800 over the course of the driest summer in the Czech Republic since 2003. In fires in July and August, 27 people lost their lives while 253 were injured, Nicole Zaoralová, spokeswoman for the Czech fire corps general directorate, confirmed. Fires in fields and forests were fairly frequent due to the extreme drought. But the blaze which caused the greatest damage, estimated at 285 million crowns, broke out at a storage facility in Prague. 

Heraldist, WWII vet, Jiří Louda dies at 94

02-09-2015 13:21 | Jan Velinger

Jiří Louda, WWII veteran and one of the country’s top heraldists, has died at the age of 94. Mr Louda designed around 200 town and municipality coat-of-arms as well as the Large State Emblem of the Czech Republic, based on heraldic symbols going back centuries. In WWII, Mr Louda made his way to Great Britain where he signed up as a paratrooper; he was later imprisoned by the Communist regime in Czechoslovakia and released in 1950. 

Nedvěd could receive state honour, ČTK reports

02-09-2015 12:20 | Jan Velinger

Former footballer Pavel Nedvěd, a runner-up at Euro 96 and player who made his name with Italian clubs Lazio and Juventus Turin appears likely to be honoured by the Czech state. Nedvěd, nicknamed Furia Ceca by Italian fans, flew to China with Czech President Zeman on Tuesday; the Czech News Agency reported that Mr Zeman told the former player to leave October 28th open – the day the nation’s highest honours are awarded. Nedvěd, who was European footballer of the year in 2003, has been routinely nominated for state honours by the Czech Senate. 

Survey suggests majority of Czechs see migrant crisis as major problem

02-09-2015 11:42 | Jan Velinger

Almost three-fifths of Czechs are unhappy with the way the Czech government has so far handled the migrant crisis, a new poll by Focus suggests. According to the survey, 87 percent said that refugees in the Czech Republic were a major problem while 93 percent were in favour of refugees being sent back. The migrant wave and government response is seen as most problematic, the poll suggests, by Czechs with high school educations, small-business owners but also some top managers, residents of smaller and medium-sized towns, pensioners and seniors. More than 1,000 people over the age of 18 took part in the poll in the second half of August. 

Kalenda expelled from Christian Democrats

02-09-2015 11:21 | Jan Velinger

The Liberec branch of the Christian Democratic Party expelled prominent local politician Daniel Kalenda from its ranks on Monday evening in response to a recent post he made on Facebook; in it he referred to the recent tragedy in Austria where 71 refugees were found dead in an abandoned transport truck, calling the migrants “dirt” that did not belong in Europe. He added that they should have known better than to get into an enclosed van in the first place. Hours later he deleted the entry saying he had been heavily drunk when he posted it. Eighteen of 19 members of the committee on Monday voted for Kalenda’s expulsion. The head of the committee, Kamil Jan Svoboda, expressed shock over his words, calling them unheard of. 

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