News High court to hear appeal by convicted killer
Prague’s High Court next week will weigh an appeal by convicted murderer Petr Mokriš, a thief and recidivist who killed a 21-year-old journalist in 1993. Invited back to her home, Mokriš stabbed and strangled the woman and stole electronic equipment worth 18,000 crowns. He was released from prison in 2008. This year, the man was found guilty and sentenced to 14 years in prison by Prague’s Municipal Court for his role in another tragedy: a fight in which he badly beat his opponent, who fell and suffered a brain injury – to which he succumbed almost a year later in hospital.
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The Czech National Library has been ordered to pay compensation to an architecture studio that argued a design by the late Jan Kaplický should not have won a tender to build a new building for the institution. A court ordered that the National Library pay HŠH architecti CZK 2.9 million for choosing Mr. Kaplický’s design even though it did not meet the requirements of the competition in 2007. The latter’s futuristic design, nicknamed “the Blob”, divided opinion and in the end was never built. The National Library may appeal Tuesday’s verdict.
The childhood home of Jan Palach is to be turned into a memorial to the student who burned himself to death in January 1969 to protest against apathy in the face of the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia that began the previous August. The National Museum has acquired the building in the Central Bohemian village of Všetaty and plans to hold a tender process for its renovation, which should be completed in 2018.
Some 85 percent of Czechs are opposed to the adoption of the common European currency within the next two years, suggests an opinion poll conducted by the agency Ipsos. Twelve percent are for joining the eurozone in a short time-frame, the survey indicates. University graduates were the group of respondents most likely to be in favour. Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka says the nearest possible term for the Czech Republic to adopt the euro is 2020, though his government has no official target date.
Karel Schwarzenberg, the head of the centre-right TOP 09 and former minister of foreign affairs, has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin wants control over the whole of Ukraine, adding that eventually the Russian leader would succeed. Mr Schwarzenberg made the comments during a debate focusing on security in the Baltics on Monday. He made clear he did not see ceasefire agreements in Minsk as stopping Moscow’s plans. Stefan Fuele, the former European commissioner for EU enlargement, in the same debate said Russia saw intervention in Ukraine as a means of reaching the same power level as the United States.
Ukrainian police detained three Czech tourists who entered a 30 kilometre wide area known as the exclusion zone surrounding the site of the former Chernobyl nuclear power plant, the site of the world’s worst nuclear power disaster in 1986. The news was released by the Rosbalt agency, which cited the interior ministry. The three Czechs, two men and one woman, are between the ages of 25 and 33. They face a fine for entering an area restricted due to radiation.
A planned journey across Europe by Russia's Night Wolves (a motorcycle gang with close ties to the Kremlin) Europe is a reaction by the Russian government to the recent passage of a US convoy across Czech territory and other NATO states, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka told journalists after meeting his Polish counterpart Ewa Kopacz on Monday. The prime minister said he agreed with the view held by Foreign Minister Zaorálek that the move was a provocation. The Night Wolves want to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Red Army’s victory over the Nazi Germany by a road trip through Russia, Belarus, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Austria and Germany from April 25 to May 9. The Night Wolves are close to Russian President Vladimir Putin who awarded members medals after they patrolled Crimea. The club supported calls for the “reintegration” of Crimea into Russia in 2014.
The Czech Republic and Poland will cooperate in water management along their joint border according to an agreement that the two countries' environment ministers, Richard Brabec and Maciej Grabowski, signed following inter-government consultations on Monday. Mr Brabec said the agreement will accelerate a joint reaction to possible floods and the pollution of water courses. The agreement on cooperation in water management along the border replaces a valid agreement which former Czechoslovakia and Poland signed in 1958. In addition to environment protection, the participants in the third Czech-Polish inter-government consultations also discussed cooperation in energy and transport. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the two countries want to submit a joint application in Brussels for the funding of the future connection of the R11 express road and the Polish S3. They must file the application during 2016, he said.
Prague Castle – the seat of the head-of-state and the office of the president – has made public the monthly salaries of top officials, including the president’s chancellor. According to information released online, monthly salaries range between 50,000 and 80,000 crowns, including bonuses. Chancellor Vratislav Mynář last year earned a net monthly income of around 120,000 crowns while his deputy earned some 36,000 less, the Czech News Agency reported. The gross average monthly wage in the Czech Republic is around 25,000 crowns. Comparing monthly wages, the chancellor earns almost the same gross income (including bonuses) as Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka.
The EU must try to stabilise countries from which refugees have tried to migrate to Europe to prevent tragedies such as the weekend sinking which saw hundreds of refugees die off Libyan coast, Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has said. After talks with his Polish counterpart Ewa Kopacz on Monday, Sobotka made clear the Czech Republic was ready to increase its aid to the refugees. Kopacz said the EU could not close its eyes on what has been occurring in the Mediterranean. She said improved border control as well as help in developing the North African countries was needed. According to some sources, up to 900 illegal migrants died after their boat capsized on Sunday. Hundreds of others died in similar incidents in the Mediterranean over the past few weeks.
A suspect who was on trial for the attempted murder of his former girlfriend was found dead in his cell at Prague Pankrác prison on Sunday night after apparently taking his life, according to the tabloid Blesk; additional details have not been released but an autopsy has been ordered. During the trial Milan Balamuta admitted he was responsible for an acid attack against his former partner; he faced an exemplary sentence. Last week he appeared in court but did not complete his testimony.