The Prague City Hall has said it wants to get homeless people off Prague’s trams, buses and metro. Mayor Tomáš Hudeček said on Thursday he will establish a working group to tackle the problem. The body is to be made up of Prague Transport authority officials, police officers and NGO representatives. Mr. Hudeček said it was not yet clear how many officers and street-workers would be needed to resolve the problem. He said he hoped to see results in the winter of this year. Due to the inadequate capacity of Prague shelters for the homeless many homeless people seek protection from the cold on the city’s public transport.
The twelfth year of the popular Colours of Ostrava music festival has begun in the Silesian city on Thursday afternoon. This year’s festival will feature 46 Czech and 60 foreign bands from 29 different countries. Organizers are expecting at least 60,000 people to attend the official part of the festival as well as the accompanying events happening in the streets of Ostrava until the end of the festival on Sunday. This is the second year that Colours of Ostrava is held in a part of the large former Vítkovice ironworks. The festival began with a concert by an Albanian band Transglobal Underground.
Finance Minister Jan Fischer said on Wednesday that he had produced sufficient proof that the repayment of his presidential election campaign debt was above-board and now considered the matter closed. The new finance minister came under widespread criticism for accepting over five million crowns from sponsors to repay the said debt soon after it became known that he would get a lucrative post in the new cabinet. A large part of the money was moreover contributed in cash. The finance minister was forced to reveal the identity of his sponsors who stipulated that the money was a gift from their own private funds and the finance minister was not obliged to them in any way. Prime Minister Jiří Rusnok has accepted the finance minister’s explanation.
The police have charged five more people in connection with the recent unrest and anti-Roma demonstrations surrounding the Máj neighborhood in the South Bohemian town of České Budejovice. The charges, leveled against both demonstrators and local Roma residents, include disorderly conduct, violent acts against a group, and inciting racial and ethnic hatred. Three major protests took place in České Budejovice over the past three weeks, which involved both local residents and extremist demonstrators from elsewhere. The police detained more than 60 people during the protests, and so far a total of 10 people have been charged.
Justice Minister Marie Benešová has refused to launch disciplinary proceedings against state attorneys Ivo Ištvan and Rostislav Bajger. This was suggested to her by former prime minister Petr Nečas, who feels that the corruption charges that the two attorneys brought against his former chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová and three former Civic Democratic MPs contradict the recent decision of the Supreme Court. The lawyers of one of the three former MPs has also asked the Highest State Attorney Pavel Zeman to supervise the work of Mr. Ištvan, who is the leading state attorney on the case. Mr. Zeman said that it is part of his job to review the case, but also told the press on Thursday that some politicians have gone too far in verbally attacking the state attorneys and police officers investigating in the corruption scandal that brought down Mr. Nečas’s government.
A flight attendant discovered a note on a plane that had arrived from Leeds at Prague’s Václav Havel airports on Thursday, which said that there is a bomb on the plane, news server Lidovky.cz reported on Thursday afternoon. Travelers were immediately evacuated from the plane and part of the airport was also cleared before the plane was inspected by the police and a bomb squad. No explosive devices were found on the plane. The police are now investigating who could have placed the note, which was written in English, onboard the plane.
A commemorative cobblestone, called Stolperstein, has been placed in front of a house on Kouřimská street in Prague’s Vinohrady neighborhood in memory of the writer and journalist Milena Jesenská, who was arrested by the Gestapo in 1939 and died in the Ravensbrück concentration camp in 1944. Jesenská was a close friend of Franz Kafka and had joined an underground resistance movement after the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, for which she was arrested. The Stolperstein cobblestones have been installed in various European cities in front of houses where victims of the Nazi regime resided before their deportation or arrest. In the upcoming days, 89 such stones will be placed around Prague and in a number of other Czech cities. This Sunday, a Stolperstein will be installed in Prague in memory of Přemysl Šámal, who was the first mayor of the city after Czechoslovakia gained independence in 1918.
An expert medical witness, who was questioned as part of the ongoing trial against businessman Roman Janoušek, said that positive results of the police breathalyzer test cannot be used as conclusive evidence of the fact that the defendant was drunk at the time of the hit-and-run incident last year. Mr. Janoušek is facing attempted murder charges, having rear-ended a car and then hitting the driver as she tried to stop him. The police measured 0.2 blood alcohol level after the incident with a breathalyzer, but Mr. Janoušek refused to submit to a blood test, which would have provided results that could serve as sufficient evidence in court, according to the expert testimony on Thursday.
The Czech Foreign Ministry is planning to open new missions in Senegal and Myanmar (Burma). Although lately the ministry has closed down a number of foreign missions, including recently the one in Luxemburg, it is hoping to open and re-open a number of them this year in countries that the ministry deems to be of economic significance to the Czech Republic. The mission in Senegal will be operating from the Austrian embassy in Dakar, while the new diplomatic mission in the Burmese Rangoon will have its own offices. Last year, the ministry announced that it will also open consulates in Qatar, Sri Lanka and Colombia in 2013.
The Czech Bar Association has lodged a disciplinary complaint against Vladimír Zavadil, a lawyer who placed an advertisement attacking then presidential candidate Karel Schwarzenberg that appeared in the tabloid Blesk on the eve of the final round of a presidential election in January. The complaint accuses Mr. Zavadil of not abiding by the legal statutes and professional ethics which require lawyers to act in upright, honorable and respectable manner at all times. The ad urged readers not to vote for Karel Schwarzenberg and made a number of statements, which Mr. Schwarzenberg's team characterized as lies. A police investigation into the matter was shelved earlier. If the disciplinary proceedings prove that he has broken his legal and ethical responsibilities, Mr. Zavadil may be facing a fine or even a ban on practicing law.
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