News Methanol affair trial begins

03-03-2014 11:27 | Jan Velinger

The trial of 10 suspects of the Zlín ‘branch’ of a gang behind the so-called ‘methanol affair’ began at the regional court in Zlín on Monday. The state prosecutor had charged a total of 31 people in the case, but some suspects will be tried at different courts across the country. Those appearing in the courtroom on Monday are suspected of having been involved in the direct production or distribution of a deadly mix of bootleg liquor (containing lethal levels of methanol) which made it onto the market in 2012. The outbreak of methanol poisoning in the Czech Republic claimed more than 50 lives; if found guilty, the suspects could receive sentences between 12 and 20 years in jail or exemplary sentences of life behind bars.

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Police swoop in on man who fired shoots into street near school

02-05-2016 16:47 | Jan Velinger

A police team was called to the scene of a shooting in Sudomeřice on Monday, closing off a nearby street as well as part of the village, and ordering a local school not to allow anyone to go outside. A 60-year-old suspect is believed to have fired gunshots into the street; no one was hurt in the incident. Police apprehended the man as he slept; children were then allowed to go home from the school with their parents. It is not yet known whether the suspected shooter was under the influence of alcohol or other substances 

Leftist extremists charged with planning transport train attack

02-05-2016 16:35 | Jan Velinger

Five suspects, described as leftist extremists, have been charged by the state prosecutor for allegedly planning a terrorist attack on a transport train carrying military material, Czech Radio reported on Monday. Of the five, three reportedly began planning the attack, which was never carried out, in 2014. The would-be perpetrators planned to firebomb the train along a Prague railway route; the additional two suspects met in an apartment where the conspiracy was discussed and failed to report the plans to the police. The five, as well as a sixth individual who faces weapons charges, were apprehended in a police raid last April. If found guilty, the three primary suspects face up between 12 and 20 years in jail and the other two, up to three years behind bars. 

Government approves agriculture sector road map

02-05-2016 16:16 | Jan Velinger

The government on Monday approved an action plan for the agriculture sector up until the year 2030. According to Agriculture Minister Marian Jurečka, planned changes include lowering by tens of thousands of hectares rapeseed production, increasing the breeding of livestock, significantly boosting vegetable growth and markedly increasing the protection of arable land from soil erosion. According to available information, fruit orchards should increase from the current 14,500 hectares to 23,000 by 2030. By 2030, up to 60 percent of arable land should be protected from erosion compared to 11 percent now. 

Ministry spokeswoman: Macedonian officials in Prague have no knowledge of Czechs who were expelled

02-05-2016 15:55 updated | Jan Velinger

Macedonian officials in Prague say they have no knowledge of Czechs being expelled from Macedonia on accusations of vandalism, the spokeswoman for the Czech Foreign Ministry Michaela Lagronová has said. The Macedonian news agency Zhurnal reported on Sunday that two Czech citizens were expelled from Macedonia after being accused of damaging property during violent anti-government demonstrations in the capital Skopje. The two, aged 24 and 25, were reportedly barred from reentering the country. The Czech News Agency has since tried to contact the media which reported the story but so far without result. 

Industry and Trade Minister says only thing which can save OKD is if owner lowers demands

02-05-2016 15:36 | Jan Velinger

Industry and Trade Minister Jan Mládek has said that the only way that difficulties surrounding the ailing OKD mining company have a chance of being resolved without insolvency, is if the owner, the Ad Hoc Group, lower demands; otherwise insolvency will be the next step. The minister made the statement after the cabinet meeting on Monday, in which the troubled OKD (owned by NWR which belongs in turn to Ad Hoc) was only indirectly discussed. OKD management is to meet over the possibility of insolvency on Tuesday. Recently Ad Hoc offered to sell the government the company shares alone for around 3.2 billion crowns which the minister turned down as largely worthless. On Friday, the government made clear it would not step in but instead focus on helping miners who would be laid off. OKD employs almost ten thousand people. 

Students begin taking high school leaving exams

02-05-2016 14:02 | Jan Velinger

More than 19,000 students began taking the first part of their high school leaving exams, known as maturita, on Monday, choosing between math and a second language as optional subjects. Twenty-seven percent chose mathematics as their voluntary subject; compulsory in the exam, for example, is the Czech language. Education Minister Kateřina Valachová launched the exam day at the Prague Na Zatlance high school, telling journalists afterwards that when she was a student facing her own exams, she had had a bad case of nerves. The minister said she had said nothing of the sort to the students on the big day, however. In all, some 70,000 students are to take their leaving exams this term. 

Forty-one people died in traffic accidents in Czech Republic in April

02-05-2016 13:49 | Jan Velinger

Forty-one people died on Czech roads over the month of April, two fewer than the same period last year, ČTK confirmed; 149 people lost their lives in traffic accidents in the Czech Republic since the beginning of the year. That is fewer by eleven than the same period in 2015. The head of the traffic police, Tomáš Lerch, told the Czech News Agency that the lower number of fatalities may have been influenced by a colder Spring than usual, as there were fewer motorcyclists and cyclists on the road; the two belong to the highest-risk group when it comes to road accidents. 

Hockey: Jágr one of three finalists up for Masterson trophy

02-05-2016 12:20 | Jan Velinger

Legendary Czech hockey forward Jaromír Jágr has been confirmed as one of the three finalists this year for the Bill Masterson Memorial Trophy, awarded to the player best exemplifying the “qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey”. At 44, Jágr led his team the Florida Panthers on points this season – becoming the oldest player in NHL history to pass the 60 point plateau (he had 61). He helped his team win the Atlantic Division for the first time; hopes for a longer Stanley Cup playoff run were ended in the first round of the playoffs by the New York Islanders. A recent New York Times prolife mapped the player’s training regimen which has helped him stay at the top of his game. 

New political party to replace Bloc Against Islam

02-05-2016 11:43 | Jan Velinger

The controversial movement Bloc Against Islam, which had had hopes of running on a joint-platform with the Dawn party in regional and Senate elections this autumn, is set to regroup under a new banner, numerous sources reported on Monday. The bloc, whose leader Martin Konvička faces charges of inciting hatred, is likely to morph into a political party. The name Alternative for the Czech Republic is reportedly under consideration. Bloc leader Martin Konvička made no secret the party will push a similar anti-migrant and anti-Islam agenda. Besides upcoming taking part in communal elections, the party will try and make a mark in parliamentary elections in 2017. Opponents of the movment say the bloc has contributed to a mood of intolerance and growing xenophobia in the country. 

Press: Minister wants cancellation of huge Czech Railways trains tender

02-05-2016 06:49 | Ian Willoughby

The minister of transport, Dan Ťok, is set to demand the cancellation of a Czech Railways competition to purchase over CZK 10 billion of new trains, the daily E15 reported. In the minister’s view the tender process has been designed to exclude foreign firms by setting criteria that can be met by only one company, Škoda Transportation. Mr. Ťok is considering making changes in the leadership at Czech Railways in connection with the competition and other matters, E15 said. 


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