News Minister of Interior seeks to open up post office cooperation to more banks

29-04-2014 12:27 updated | Chris Johnstone

Minister of the Interior Marcel Chovanec has signalled that he wants to open the way to more banks to become the partner of the post office bank, Poštovní spořitelna. At the moment the exclusive cooperation rights are held by ČSOB but its contract expires in 2017. Business daily Hospodářské Noviny reported Tuesday that the minister would allow foreign as well as domestic banks to compete for the right to get access to around 2.0 million clients and a dense network of branches. Part attempts to open up the post office network to other banks have fallen foul to the fact that the post office is heavily reliant on ČSOB software and programs.

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Koller not to perform alongside Ortel

12-02-2016 16:20 | Daniela Lazarová

Czech singer David Koller has announced he will not be performing at venues at which the highly controversial Czech band Ortel makes and appearance. Ortel, whose hateful lyrics primarily target religious and ethnic minorities, is currently riding high on anti-immigrant sentiments. Last year, the largely unknown band from Plzeň jumped from 105th spot to fourth place in the Český Slavík competition. Koller, on the other hand, often takes a public stand against left and right extremism. 

President Zeman: Europe must deport economic migrants and religious fanatics

12-02-2016 16:18 | Daniela Lazarová

President Miloš Zeman has said that the solution to the migrant crisis in Europe is the deportation of all economic migrants and religious fanatics. Speaking at a conference on social democracy in Bratislava, Mr. Zeman said Europe should not underestimate the danger of jihadists infiltrating the continent in the migrant wave and setting up dormant terrorist cells in Europe. The president said Europe’s Social Democrats must take responsibility for the defence of European values. 

Justice Ministry says Czech Republic could not prosecute Fayad

12-02-2016 16:16 updated | Daniela Lazarová

The Justice Ministry has dismissed the idea that Lebanese terrorist suspect Ali Fayad could have been prosecuted in the Czech Republic. Deputy Justice Minister Petr Jager said the legal conditions for this were not met. The opposition TOP 09 party on Friday accused the government of having violated Czech and international law in releasing terrorist suspect Ali Fayad who was wanted by the US authorities. The party claims that since the Czech Republic refused to extradite him he should have been prosecuted here. Fayad was released on the order of the Czech justice minister on the same day that five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon returned home. 

Tomáš Holub to be new Bishop of Plzen

12-02-2016 14:44 | Daniela Lazarová

Tomáš Holub, general secretary of the Czech Bishops Conference and dean of the Basilica and Royal Collegiate Church of St Peter and St Paul, has been appointed Bishop of Plzen. The appointment by Pope Francis was announced by the papal nuncio in the Church of St. Bartholomew in Plzen. Tomáš Holub will replace the outgoing bishop Frantisek Radkovský on April 30th. Radkovský announced his resignation upon reaching the age of 75. Holub served as the Czech Army’s first military chaplain. 

Lower house debates migrant crisis

12-02-2016 12:31 | Daniela Lazarová

The lower house on Friday met to debate the migrant crisis and the official stance of the Czech government to developments. Opposition deputies criticized the government for not having rejected mandatory refugee quotas outright and expressed concern over the fact that the EU was not able to bring the influx of refugees under control. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek defended the government’s stand, saying that the priorities were to secure the EU’s outer borders, bring the flow of migrants under control by establishing functional registration hot spots and maintain the Schengen open space. 

Turkish national not to be extradited to his homeland

12-02-2016 12:05 | Daniela Lazarová

A Turkish national, convicted in his homeland of a crime with a terrorist subtext, will not be extradited to Turkey, the regional court in Hradec Kralove ruled on Friday. Nazmi Sahin, 30, was arrested in the Czech Republic last year on an Interpol warrant. His lawyer Zuzana Dostalkova dismissed claims of terrorism, saying that her client had been convicted of political activities which she likened to dissident activities in communist Czechoslovakia. The judge ruled Sahin was free to go. He had been moving around Europe for six years and has reportedly been granted political asylum in Italy. 

Defence Minister Stropnicky to remain in office

12-02-2016 11:50 updated | Daniela Lazarová

Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky, who is under fire for speaking freely to the media about the case of the five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon, will remain in office. Following a meeting of coalition leaders on Friday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the minister had erred, but not to such an extent that he should be sacked. Stropnický told the daily Hospodarské noviny last week that the release of five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon was conditional on Prague's decision not to extradite terrorist suspect Ali Fayad to the US. Deputy PM Pavel Bělobrádek on Thursday called on Defence Minister Martin Stropnický to consider resigning from his post. Similar calls have come from the opposition on the grounds that the defence minister had committed a grave breach of security. 

Fire damages part of Prague National Museum main building

12-02-2016 08:25 | Chris Johnstone

A massive fire broke out overnight at the main building of Prague’s National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square, one of the main landmarks of the capital. Around 20 fire crews were rushed to the scene with the fire given the highest danger level. The fire was brought under control after around an hour with around 200 square metres of the roof damaged. The blaze could have been started as a result of ongoing massive reconstruction works at the building which has resulted in it being closed to the public with the exhibits removed for storage. 

Judge given five year sentence for taking bribes and softening sentences

12-02-2016 08:25 | Chris Johnstone

A Prague court has cut the sentence on former judge Ondřej Havlín by 15 months to five years and three months at appeal. A former state prosecutor František Fiala’s prison sentence was also confirmed but cut to three years and 10 months. Havlín and others were found guilty of influencing court cases in favour of the accused, mostly drink drivers, in return for bribes and other favours. The sentences are now binding. 

ČEZ says two Dukovany units closed for emergency safety checks to resume production

11-02-2016 18:41 | Chris Johnstone

Czech utility ČEZ announced that two of its units at the Dukovany nuclear power plant closed for emergency checks on welds to pipes outside the core reactor areas will resume power production in the next days. ČEZ said Thursday that Dukovany-1 is powering up and should be supplying electricity to the grid from Friday. The unit was closed for checks on pipe welds after X-ray images produced by a sub-contract company were shown to be flawed. Dukovany-2 should power up Friday and produce electricity for the grid Saturday after an unplanned outage of 148 days for the similar repeat X-ray checks on welds to piping. For much of the last half year only one of the four units at the reactor has been operational due to the emergency checks. 

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