Police are investigating the cause of Monday’s devastating explosion
near Prague’s National Theater, as clean-up work at the site of the
accident continues. It has not yet been determined if the explosion, which
is thought to have been caused by a gas leak in the building, was the
result of an accident. Prague’s main gas provider, Pražská
plynárenská, has denied possible neglect or wrongdoing on the part of
Forty three people were injured in the blast, of those 35 were taken to hospital, but the majority were released after getting medical attention. Two people remain in hospital with more serious injuries.
The building where the Monday blast took place was deemed unstable after one of the walls had moved. Throughout Tuesday, engineers and firefighters worked on securing the building to prevent it from collapsing. Estimates of the total damages to the building have not been determined, but may reach up to 20 or 30 million crowns. Other buildings in the surrounding area also suffered considerable damage. Prague city council agreed on Tuesday to offer financial help to people who were affected by the explosion, as well as to Charles University, whose building was badly damaged by the blast. Mayor Bohuslav Svoboda said that the total amount of aid has not been decided on yet.
The Central Bohemian regional court rejected a request from former regional governor David Rath and two others accused in the same corruption case to be released on bail. The court determined that Mr Rath, as well as former MP Petr Kott and former director of the Kladno hostpiatl, Kteřina Pnacová, are at flight risk and will remain in custody until the trial. Mr Rath was arrested a year ago on corruptions charges and has been in custody ever since.
The anti-corruption police have accused the former head of the Road and Motorway Directorate of the Czech Republic, Alfréd Brunclík, of manipulating rental contracts for two motorway rest areas. The estimated losses for the state, resulting from the manipulated tender, are approximately 120 million crowns. Mr Brunclík filed a complaint against the suit, claiming the accusations against him were ridiculous and unfounded. The police have accused four other individuals in the case.
A former air force pilot and a key witness in the CASA planes scandal, Karel Daňhel, was acquitted of sexual harassment charges by the district court in Prague 9 on Tuesday. The alleged harassment victim told police already in March that she had invented her testimony. As an expert in military technology at the general staff of the armed forces Daňhel had prepared evaluation reports for the purchase of Spanish-made CASA airplanes. He reportedly told police that the then defense deputy Martin Barták exerted pressure on the government to purchase the overpriced aircrafts.
Actor and Charter 77 signatory Pavel Landovský as well as bishop Václav Malý were among 23 people who were recognized as members of the so-called third anti-communist resistance movement. The recognition certificates were given out on Tuesday by the Defense Minister Vlastimil Picek. Some have criticized the fact that Minister Picek, who was a member of the Communist Party before 1989, gave out the awards. The defense ministry has given out 323 recognitions of third resistance membership so far, having rejected 583 requests, with almost 4,000 applications awaiting evaluation.
One of the most internationally renowned Czech writers, Jaroslav Hašek, was born in Prague 130 years ago on Tuesday. Hašek is best known for his four-volume satirical novel The Good Soldier Švejk, but has also written numerous short stories and newspaper articles. During the First World War, Hašek was first imprisoned by the Russian army and later joined the Czechoslovak Legion and the Red Army before returning to Czechoslovakia in 1920. A giant granite bust of Jaroslav Hašek was unveiled this weekend near Světla nad Sázavou in the Vysočina region.
The design of the Czech Olympic kit for the 2014 Sochi winter games will be inspired by the paintings of the Czech artists Alfons Mucha, the Olympic committee chairman Jiří Kejval announced at a press on conference on Tuesday. Mr Kejval, together with the retired tennis star Ivan Lendl revealed the first images that will be featured on official Olympians’ clothing, which were taken in part from a postage stamp designed by Mucha. The design for the kit of the Czech team from last year’s London summer games was based on František Kupka’s painting Amorpha, which received considerable praise from the international media.
A home in Dolní Vilémovice that belonged to the family of Czech hero Jan Kubiš, a British-trained paratrooper who, together with his Slovak colleague Jozef Gabčík headed an operation to kill Nazi Reichsprotector Reinhard Heydrich, will open as a museum on June 22. Included in the permanent exhibition will be items that were found just recently during renovation of the site: previously unknown letters, photographs and part of a military uniform were discovered under a stairway. Jan Kubiš and fellow soldier Jozef Gabčík pulled off their daring attack against the ‘Hangman of Bohemia’ on May 27, 1942. Heydrich died several days later of his wounds. Kubiš, Gabčík and another five paratroopers were later surrounded at the Church of St. Cyril and St. Methodious on Resslova Street in Prague and paid for the assassination with their lives. Kubiš was wounded and died in hospital; the others committed suicide to avoid capture.
An eighteenth century Torah case from Hradec Králové was auctioned off for 9,375 dollars on Monday at the Sotheby’s auction house in New York. The velvet and silk brocaded religious object was part of the Michael and Judy Steinhardt Judaica Collection, which includes hundreds of objects from around the world from antiquity through the 20th century. The auction of the remaining pieces in the collection will continue on Tuesday.