The Supreme Court has upheld a 16-year-prison sentence for an American citizen who was found guilty of murdering a man on a night tram in Prague last February. The two men reportedly had an argument in a bar after which the victim departed. The American followed him onto a Prague tram shooting him in cold blood after it had emptied out. The 43-year-old man was later found dead by the tram driver.
Korean Air and Qatar Airlines have expressed interest in purchasing shares in the Czech national carrier Czech Airlines, or ČSA, Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek said at a press briefing in Prague on Wednesday. The government is offering to sell a 96 percent stake to a European buyer; other airlines could only purchase a less than 50 percent stake in order to ensure that ČSA remains a national carrier. Although it approached 50 airlines with the offer only Korean Air and Qatar Airlines have responded. The Czech government is expected to decide on the sale in March of next year. A previous attempt to sell off ČSA in 2009 was not successful.
The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu made a brief stop-over in
Prague on Wednesday to personally thank his Czech counterpart, Petr
for the Czech Republic’s vote at the UN General Assembly last week
against the upgrading of the Palestinians’ status at the United Nations.
The Czech Republic was one of only nine countries to vote against the
Palestinians becoming an observer state – and the only European Union
country to do so. At a press briefing in Prague the Israeli prime minister
said the Czech Republic had taken a brave, if not popular, stance. He
reiterated that he remained committed to a two-state solution with the
Palestinians, but stressed that Israel would not reverse its course in the
construction of new settlements nor would it sacrifice its vital interests
for the sake of obtaining the world's applause.
Analysts note that Mr. Netanyahu’s second visit to Prague this year reflects the two countries' above-standard relations. From Prague the Israeli prime minister will travel to Berlin for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel.
A Christmas outdoor ice-skating rink opened on Prague’s Ovocný trh, in the city centre on Wednesday. The rink is open from 10 am till 10 pm daily for free and people can rent skates on the spot. The ice-rink has an eleven-year-tradition and is used by around 20,000 people every Christmas. It will remain open until January 6th.
According to Transparency International’s 2012 corruption perception index the Czech Republic’s corruption rating has improved slightly moving it from 57th to 54th place on the ladder, alongside Latvia, Malaysia and Turkey. The Czech branch of TI says that despite the government’s proclaimed anti-corruption drive significant progress will not be made unless more people and more money are involved and the respective anti-corruption laws are in place. TI has repeatedly criticized the absence of a law on civil service, the financing of political parties and the fact that politicians are appointed to the boards of state-run companies.
The deputy to the supreme state attorney, Stanislav Mečl, has been dismissed from his post. He was removed from office by Justice Minister Pavel Blažek at the request of the Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman. Mr. Zeman’s spokesperson Helena Markusová said that due to several incidents in the recent past the supreme state attorney no longer trusted his deputy. No details were provided and neither Mr. Mečl nor Mr. Zeman have been available for comment.
The Chamber of Deputies voted on Tuesday to lift the parliamentary immunity of the Civic Democrats’ Roman Pekárek. Mr. Pekárek had been in the process of appealing a six-year jail term for corruption when he gained a seat in the Chamber of Deputies due to the resignation of a party colleague. Some 158 of 161 deputies present in the lower house voted to strip him of his immunity, meaning that his appeal proceeding can now go ahead. Mr. Pekárek says he is innocent and has rejected calls for him to quit the lower house.
The Czech Republic beat the USA 13:4 at the World Floorball Championships in Switzerland on Monday night. The Czechs, who were favourites, got off to a slower start than in their first game – in which they routed Japan 21:1 – and did not score until the sixth minute. The result puts them into the knock-out stage, and they will face Latvia on Tuesday night in a game to decide who wins their group.
Fire officers were called out on Tuesday morning to put out a fire at the Czech National Library at Prague’s Clementinum. The small fire – which broke out in a kitchen in the administrative section of the library – did not cause any injuries. The damages are being assessed. A spokesperson for the Prague fire service said that the cause appeared to be an electrical fault. The National Library is currently undergoing renovations.
The Czech president Václav Klaus and his Hungarian counterpart János Áder said after a meeting in Budapest on Tuesday that their countries had a shared interest in expanding their nuclear power plants. Mr. Klaus said the two states would defend their nuclear policies in a Europe that was behaving irrationally. Austria has criticised both the Czech Republic and Hungary’s use of nuclear energy, and the Czech president said he was disquieted by any Austrian protests against plans to expand the Temelín plant in south Bohemia. He was in Hungary on the first day of a two-day state visit.
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