Large supermarket chains around the Czech Republic have announced that they have taken all hard alcohol products off their shelves overnight, following a ban that was issued late Friday evening. Chains such as Tesco, Billa and Kaufland said they had employees working night shifts on Friday night in order to comply with the government ban. The Czech Agriculture and Food Inspection Authority has announced that liquor stronger than 20 percent does not have to be taken off the shelves, but must be covered from view, and blocked in the cashier systems by all retailers. The police carried out inspections in supermarkets and shops throughout the night. Alcohol producers, restaurants and storeowners have criticized the ban, saying it will only promote illegal sales of alcohol. The ban was issued by the government indefinitely, until the case of bootleg liquor which has caused fatal methanol poisoning is resolved. So far, approximately 19 people were arrested in connection with the case, but a single source of poisoned alcohol has not been determined yet.
The police have confiscated approximately 1,240 liters of unstamped bottled alcohol from a family house near the south Moravian city of Znojmo late Friday night. Police spokeswoman said on Saturday that more than 600 liters of rum, 500 liters of vodka and dozens of bottles with other hard liquor were found without proper duty stamps that would verify its source and tax compliance. The content of the bottles is now being tested for methanol. On Friday, police had also discovered barrels with 500 liters of bootleg alcohol in the town of Hustopeče near Brno. The amount of tax evasion in this case was estimated to be approximately 75 thousand crowns.
Remains of twelve ethnic Germans were put to rest on Saturday in the city of Jihlava in the Vysočina region. The remains were taken from a mass grave two years ago in the Budínka field near the town of Dobronín. The mass grave allegedly contains the remains of victims of the “revolutionary guards”, murdered in the final month of World War II. The service at the St. Jacob’s Church in Jihlava was attended by approximately 200 people and was led in German by reverend Dieter Lang. Reverend Lang, whose own family comes from the Vysočina region, called for reconciliation between Czechs and Germans in his sermon. In May and June of 1945, some Czech towns and villages saw spontaneous violent acts committed by the Czech-speaking population against ethnic German residents. Between 1945 and 1947, three million ethnic Germans and Hungarians were forced to leave Czechoslovakia by the government, based on the so-called Beneš Decrees. It is still unkown how many ethnic Germans perished as a result of the deportation and sporatic violence that took place in the wake of the Allies‘ victory.
Czech tennis player Lucie Hradecká has won the quarter final against the American Lauren Davis at the WTA Bell Challenge Tournament in Quebec City. Hradecká will face France’s Kristina Mladenovic in the women’s singles semi-final on Saturday evening. The 27 year-old received the silver medal in this summer Olympics women’s doubles with her partner Andrea Hlaváčková, and got to the final of the US Open in the beginning of September.
An explosion took place in a Prague 6 apartment building late on Friday night, injuring three people. More than 60 residents of the building were evacuated and provided with temporary accommodation by municipal authorities. The police found explosives and other dangerous substance in an apartment belonging to a 33-year-old resident of the building. The special task force was called in to inspect the site. None of the residents have been allowed to re-enter the building yet.
On Friday evening, the first day of the traditional annual wine festival in Znojmo, over 15 thousand people gather in the south-western Moravian town. The festival’s pinnacle will be on Saturday afternoon, with attendance expected to increase, when a parade with knights, historical figures such as John of Luxemburg, his wife Eliška Přemyslovna and the Greek god of wine Dionysus will pass through the center of the town. Wine festivals take place across the whole of south Moravia and other parts of the country in September and October of every year. The Znojmo festival is probably the most famous and best attended among them.
The Czech government has banned all sales of hard liquor in the Czech Republic indefinitely after the 19th person died on Friday from methyl alcohol poisoning. Affected are all establishments where hard liquor is normally sold including hotels, shops, bars and restaurants. Under the ban, effective immediately, proprietors are no longer allowed to sell liquor stronger than 20 percent. An earlier ban had prevented alcohol sales by street vendors only. Sellers failing to heed the ban could face a fine of up to three million crowns. The recent incidence of methanol poisonings in the Czech Republic has shocked the country; five new cases were registered on Thursday; the newest case is a 30-year-old in Prague who fell ill on Friday after drinking laced alcohol and is in critical condition.
The police have now arrested 17 people in connection with methyl alcohol poisoning. The arrests came in three regions: Moravia-Silesia, Zlín, and Olomouc. Earlier in the day, police president Martin Červíček revealed that eight people had been charged following a meeting of the emergency task force set up by the government to deal with the crisis; the number of those charged has since gone up to 11. In recent days the consumption of laced bootleg liquor across the country claimed the lives of 19 people.
Reviews of more than 150 autopsies of people who died in the Moravian-Silesian region over the last four months have revealed no further methanol-related deaths, forensics specialists have said. Methyl alcohol poisoning was uncovered earlier in the case of a woman from Havířov who died in May. That case is reportedly not related to the current wave of methanol poisoning in the country. Nineteen people in the Czech Republic (the latest a 66-year-old woman in Moravia-Silesia found dead in her apartment) have died in recent days as a result of consuming bootleg liquor laced with methyl alcohol. Twenty-seven others remain in hospital in serious condition; on Thursday alone five new cases were registered.
Additional cuts in the civil service will affect all government ministries Deputy Prime Minister Karolína Peake has revealed. Speaking to journalists the head of the smallest party in government, LIDEM, said a major cut in funds might be needed at the Culture Ministry while the Ministry for Regional Development might be closed entirely. She stressed what was key was not the closing of ministries per se but a reduction in their agendas. A report compiled by the deputy prime minister will be discussed at the cabinet level; she said in advance she expected to be met with resistance from individual ministries. In June, the government assigned Mrs Peake the task of proposing cuts in areas of the civil service; under the plan, almost 12 billion crowns are to be saved in 2014 and as much as 25 billion crowns one year later. According to the deputy prime minister, the ministries together have only proposed cuts of 1.6 billion crowns.
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