A 32-year-old man drowned in the Morava River in Olomouc after taking a dive from a bridge in order to impress his two female companions. The trio had been drinking at a bar nearby prior to the incident. Two officers who were in the vicinity tried in vain to save the man and one of them nearly lost his own life in the rain-swollen river. Divers later found the man’s body several miles downstream.
Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg has rejected as unfounded safety concerns over the planned completion of the Temelin nuclear power plant saying the country fully adheres to all international safety norms. In an interview for the Austrian magazine Profil, Mr. Schwarzenberg said the Czech Republic would not backtrack on its plans to build two more nuclear reactors at Temelin. He dismissed safety concerns stemming from the Fukushima nuclear disaster as irrelevant saying that the last tsunami the Czech lands experienced would have been about 500 million years ago and it was unlikely to occur for several thousand more years.
A recently amnestied prisoner has been charged with the death of a 55-year-old man. The suspect has been charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm resulting in death. The victim was found dead with facial wounds and other injuries. Two other amnestied prisoners have also been arrested after stealing money from a local bar within hours of being released. The broad amnesty declared by President Vaclav Klaus on January 1st has been widely criticized both by the government and opposition. According to the Justice Ministry it may relate to an estimated 32,000 people.
Presidential candidate Miloš Zeman is widely perceived as the winner of a one-on-one television debate with his main rival Jan Fischer. Both experts and the public gave Mr. Zeman higher marks, saying he had appeared more confident, more at ease and better prepared than his rival. The two former prime ministers, who have been running neck to neck in recent polls, were also given questions in English and Russian to test their language skills. The debate organized by commercial TV Prima Family was tailored according to presidential debates in the US.
Around 7,200 Czechs living abroad have registered to vote in the upcoming presidential election, the Czech Foreign Ministry said on Friday. That is some 600 people more than those registered to vote in the previous general election. Czech expats will have to cast their ballots at the country’s embassies and consulates; voting in the Americas will begin on Thursday at 5 PM CET due to the time difference.
Tickets for a Europa League knock-out stage game between Sparta Prague and Chelsea FC, to be played in Prague on February 14, will begin on January 21, a Sparta spokesman said on Friday. The tickets will cost between 950 and 2950 crowns, or between USD 50 and 150. The club will offer discounts to season ticket holders and members of its fan club; it’s possible that no tickets for the game will be available on general sale.
Planned changes to driving licence rules have prompted higher sales of scooters, the news agency ČTK reported on Friday. As of mid January, driving licences for cars will allow drivers to ride scooters with engines of up to 125 ccm; as a result, sales of motorcycles in this category have risen by some 30 percent in the past several months. The most popular model on the Czech market is the Honda PCX 125. However, overall sales of motorcycles decreased last year by around 8 percent.
Eight out of 36 Czech prisons on Friday concluded the release of prisoners freed under an amnesty declared by President Václav Klaus. Over 5,000 prisoners have been released so far, or around two-thirds of all those who are serving terms and are affected by the amnesty. In total, the amnesty shoudl affect over 32,000 people. Many of the freed prisoners have no financial means, and prisons therefore provide them with assistance to reach their homes. Several freed prisoners have already been arrested again for crimes committed soon after their release.
The presidential candidates have welcomed the decision by the Constitutional Court to hold the election on the originally planned dates. Jan Fischer said the decision was good news for Czech citizens, while Táňa Fischerová said she considered the decision wise. For his part, Přemysl Sobotka believes the verdict was appropriate, as people had been getting nervous about whether or not the election would take place, while Jiří Dienstbier said he had expected the court to reject the request to postpone the election. Karel Schwarzenberg said he was glad the vote would take place as originally planned, adding he hoped the decision would not undermine the election’s legitimacy. Nine candidates are in the running.
The Czech under 20 national hockey team beat Switzerland 4:3 on Friday to finish fifth at the world championships in Ufa. The Czechs were losing 1:0 after the first 20 minutes but won the second period 3:1, and successfully defended their lead in the final stage of the game. The Czech team also ended fifth at the previous under 20 world championships in Canada last year.
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