News Testimony to continue in libel case taken by Finance Minister Babiš over StB allegations
Testimony will continue on Monday in a court case the finance minister of the Czech Republic, Andrej Babiš, has taken in an attempt to refute allegations he collaborated with the StB secret police in the communist era. Mr. Babiš has taken a libel case against the Nation’s Memory Institute in his native Slovakia, whose files list him as an StB agent. The politician and billionaire businessman denies the allegation. Two former StB agents are due in court in Bratislava but a verdict is not expected today.
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According to experts at the Hydro-Meteorological Institute, Moravia will see strong winds beginning on Sunday, with the first snowfall of the season expected in mountain areas during the night. The first snow may last for some time in the mountains, experts added.
A convict who made an escape from Ostrov, a light-security prison in the region of Karlovy Vary, on Friday has been caught by law enforcement. The 21-year-old, serving time primarily for car theft, had less than a year left in his sentence. He cut through bars and scaled a fence in making his escape. The last escape from the facility was in 1992.
The region of Olomouc has launched a new online portal aimed at providing information and helping local residents. Regional governor Jiří Rozbořil made clear that civil servants, in a first, would be available online for so-called e-consulting. The website also aims to provide up-to-date information about grants and various surveys and studies.
The Czech national football team faces Turkey in Prague on Saturday in its second-to-last qualifying match for EURO 2016 in France. The Czech squad has already clinched a berth in the tournament but will be hoping to secure further points for better overall placement. It is not yet clear who will have goalkeeping duties on Saturday: acting team captain Petr Čech or Tomáš Vaclík. The goalkeepers will split the final two games; the Czechs will be in action again on Tuesday against the Netherlands. Turkey and the Netherlands are both fighting for the final spot in their group from which it is still possible to qualify in a run-off.
The outgoing head of Czech Radio Peter Duhan has told public broadcaster Czech TV he was offered a bribe by former deputy head Michal Koliandr. Mr Duhan pressed charges against the former employee earlier this year. According to the Czech News Agency, the bribe was made in connection with the sale of property owned by Czech Radio - a chateau in Přerov nad Labem. The outgoing director saw the deputy head, who was in largely in charge of economic matters, dismissed for work-related issues; Mr Duhan told Czech Radio's supervisory board there had been "an absolute loss of trust". Mr Koliandr has dismissed the accusation of wrongdoing but declined to further comment on the matter.
The number of police officers conducting random checks at border crossings was boosted from 200 to 720 on Saturday morning along the country's border with Austria. The move was taken in anticipation of Austria closing its borders at the weekend. Personnel was increased at some 20 crossings, including smaller official crossings where there were few extra measure before now. Some 650 soldiers are also on stand-by if the situation calls for it. If Austria closes its borders it is expected that migrants will try and take a detour through the Czech Republic on to Germany.
Fans of adrenaline sport and mountain biking near the Olomouc area will now be able to visit a new bike park which opened on Friday in Olomouc-Slavonín. The facility is offering four tracks focusing on numerous cycling disciplines, for everyone from beginners and children to more experienced riders. The park cost 3.5 million crowns to build; the local town council received European funding for the project.
The regional court in Brno has sentenced 33-year-old Marek Teplý, a rapper who goes by the stage name of El Maron, to 11.5 years in prison for a murder committed on December 30 last year. Mr Teplý, who had been drinking heavily, reportedly stabbed another man in the back in a bar in Třebíč. The defendant said he had no memory of the attack; but he admitted to the murder and expressed regret for his actions. Psychologists confirmed he suffered from no psychological problems. Besides the prison sentence, Mr Teplý has been ordered to pay 2.25 million crowns in damages to the murdered man’s relatives. The ruling can still be appealed.
The City of Prague and eMoneyServices have reached a deal on a number of outstanding issues on the Opencard, the multi-purpose card used by commuters in the city’s public transit system. EMS was the former operator of the card but failed to secure a new contract with the former administration which charged the firm’s proposal was grossly overpriced. An expert witness, together with EMS experts, will conduct a diagnostic test of the electronic Opencard system; the city is hoping that they will be able to smooth out problems which emerged.
Czech Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek and his Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics have indicated both are in favour of a possible reassessment of ties with Minsk dependant on positive signals from Belarus which is holding presidential elections on Sunday. They also regarded as positive a recent decision by Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko leading to the release of six political prisoners as well as the role of Belarus in peace talks to try and end the conflict in Ukraine. Other issues on the table in Prague on Friday included not only bilateral relations but also the upcoming NATO summit in Warsaw.