News Police investigating serial murders looking for witnesses
Police investigating the murder of three taxi drivers have asked potential witnesses to step forward. The murders all happened on the same day of the week and according to unconfirmed sources all three drivers were shot in the back of the head with the same weapon. In each case the killer is believed to have taken a taxi from the centre of Prague to the outskirts where he committed the murders. The case has spread fear among Prague taxi drivers some of whom are now armed. Others refuse to take passengers off the street only responding to calls from an operator.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
The Czech Banking Association has improved the Gross Domestic Product growth estimate for this year to 3.2 percent from April’s 2.4 percent, according to a forecast that the association made public on Wednesday. The GDP growth estimate for 2016 remains at 2.7 percent. According to the CBA’s chief economist Eva Zamrazilová, the full-year estimate of economic growth for 2015 was raised on the basis of favourable data from the last quarter. She also said the growth in the rest of the year will be driven in particular by domestic demand.
A Czech delegation is to travel to Lebanon next week to try to gain more information on the case of the five Czechs who went missing in the country in mid-July. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek made the announcement on Wednesday after a meeting of the government’s crisis committee. The delegation will include Deputy Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek and the head of the anti-organized crime squad Robert Šlachta. Mr Zaorálek, who had originally planned to travel to Lebanon himself, has postponed the journey after consulting with his Lebanese counterpart Gibran Basil. The Czech delegation will, among other things, try to establish close cooperation with local investigators and share information that the Czech side has assembled on the case. Two Czech intelligence experts are already in Lebanon working in the field.
International football goalkeeper Petr Čech was the best paid Czech sports person last season. According to Forbes magazine, the Czech goalie earned 351 million crowns in 2014, compared to the previous season’s 295 million. Tennis player and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitová came second with 178 million crowns, an improvement from last year’s 24th position. Czech football captain and Arsenal midfielder Tomáš Rosický placed third with 172 million crowns.
The Senate’s Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs has issued a recommendation for senators to approve a government draft legislation proposing to broaden the powers of the intelligence services. Under the draft legislation, intelligence services will have access to information on bank accounts, protected by bank secrecy. So far, information could only be provided by the intelligence to the financial institutions in question, but not vice versa. The draft bill would also entitle intelligence services to data from telecommunication operators, which would enable them to identify the owner of a particular telephone number. The draft is set to be debated by the Senate next week.
Smoking is to be banned on the premises of the ArcelorMittal metallurgical plant in Ostrava from September 1, the firm has announced. ArcelorMittal, which employs around 7,500 people, is the first major company in the Czech Republic to make such a move. The smoking ban has been prepared for some time and workers have been offered treatment to help them kick the habit. Company officials say repeated breach of the prohibition could result in dismissal.
An open-air cinema has been launched on the terrace of Prague’s Veletržní Palace, the home of the Czech National Gallery’s modern art collection. The first film, The Last Adventure by Robert Enrico, was screened there on Tuesday night and more archive movies on the theme of art, heights and aviation are planned for the remaining Tuesdays in August. The terrace of the Functionalist building housed a café in the past but since a fire it has rarely been used.
A 24-member Czech team for the forthcoming World Athletics Championships in Beijing has been announced. Among the 15 men and nine women selected are two defending world champions, hurdler Zuzana Hejnová and javelin thrower Vítězslav Veselý. Barbora Špotáková, who also competes in the javelin, returns to the World Championships team after missing the last event in Moscow due to maternity leave. The Czech team’s coach, Tomáš Dvořák,said eight members were in their discipline’s top eight competitors this year, which was good news. The World Athletics Championships run from August 22 to 30.
Around 50 people were injured, seven of them seriously, when two express trains collided in a station at Horažďovice in south-western Bohemia on Tuesday. A spokesperson for Czech Railways said the last two wagons on a train travelling from Plzeň to Ceske Budějovice were derailed, slamming into a stopped train going from Plzeň to Brno. The second train was also derailed in the incident, which may have been caused by a mistake in switching. Three of the most seriously injured were taken to hospital by helicopter.
A second investigation in the case of jailed ex-politician David Rath has come to an end, state attorney Jiří Pražák said on Tuesday. The police should hand the case file to the state attorney’s office in the coming days. The investigation concerns companies suspected of involvement in the manipulation of public tenders in the Central Bohemian Region, of which Mr. Rath was governor. The police have already charged 10 people, including Mr. Rath, in connection with the allegations, which relate to eight firms. The former Social Democrat minister of health recently received an eight and a half year jail term and was stripped of CZK 20 million after being found guilty in a linked case.
A group of Czech non-governmental organisations working with migrants say that rules governing asylum seekers should be changed to allow them to reach Europe safely and ask for protection, iDnes.cz reported. This would thwart human traffickers and help save lives, they say. In a statement, the consortium of 18 NGOs said that those whose lives were in danger should have easier access to humanitarian visas and an increased chance of reuniting with family members. Around 1,000 illegal migrants have been detained in the Czech Republic since checks were stepped up in mid-June and the issue of asylum has been attracting increased attention.