A Serbian national was detained at Prague airport last week after customs officers found two kilos of heroin in his luggage, the ctk news agency reports. The incident happened on Thursday but the information was not released until Monday, in view of an ongoing investigation. The man was allegedly travelling to Prague from Uganda, via Amsterdam. The street value of the drug has been estimated at several million crowns.
Prague’s Troya Zoo has announced the birth of an elephant calf, the first in the zoo’s 80-year-old history. The calf was born on Monday to a female elephant who came to Prague Zoo in the spring of this year from Rotterdam. Her keepers from Rotterdam Zoo were present at the birth. According to a zoo spokesman the newborn calf will be shown to the public on March 30th.
Meteorologists have issued a snow alert for the coming 48 hours. Tuesday and Wednesday are expected to bring up to 15 centimetres of snow in the lower altitudes and approximately 30 centimetres of fresh snow in the mountain regions. Drivers have been warned to expect traffic complications and not to set out for the mountains without winter gear. The eastern part of the country is already battling with heavy snow with traffic complications and delays in public transport.
A badly set up state system supporting solar energy could end up costing Czech tax payers up to CZK 1 billion, the environment minister, Tomáš Chalupa, said on a TV debate programme on Sunday. The Energy Regulatory Office said on Monday that an internal audit had revealed that some of its officials had acted illegally in setting inflated purchase prices for solar power in the 2005–2011 period. The regulator said excessive charges levied under the scheme could total tens of billions of crowns and filed criminal charges in relation to the matter. Minister Chalupa blamed the situation on deputies who approved the system in 2005 and subsequent governments. He also said that solar power producers could go bankrupt and leave fields of panels for the local authorities to clean up.
The body that brings together companies active in the solar power field is planning to file a criminal complaint against the chairwoman of the Energy Regulatory Office, Alena Vitásková. A representative of the Czech Photovoltaic Industry Association said on Czech TV on Sunday that the regulator deliberately produced false data that was then used by the Constitutional Court. The court ruled last year that the government was within its rights to put a retroactive tax on solar power plant investors in order to curb a solar boom. The industry body says the Energy Regulatory Office’s action against its own staff has been intended to cover up for the organisation’s failings.
President Václav Klaus’s chief of protocol, Jindřich Forejt, will remain in the post under the new head of state, Miloš Zeman. Mr. Forejt had been tipped to be the Czech Republic’s next ambassador to the Vatican. His prospective appointment had been the source of a dispute between Mr. Klaus and the foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, who said the post should only be filled by an experienced diplomat. Another of the outgoing president’s team, his chancellor Jiří Weigl, rejected an offer to remain at Prague Castle. Mr. Klaus steps down on March 7, with Mr. Zeman due to be inaugurated the following day.
The deputy chairman of the opposition Social Democrats, Lubomír
Zaorálek, says he is still waiting to learn who formulated a
amnesty declared by President Klaus at the beginning of the year. Speaking
on a TV debate programme on Sunday, Mr. Zaorálek said that he had applied
for the information under right to information legislation but had
a reply from Prague Castle that “said nothing”. He said that he would
now address the president directly and would consider taking a lawsuit if
he does not find satisfaction.
Under President Klaus’s amnesty, which he said was to mark 20 years since the foundation of the Czech Republic, over 6,000 prisoners have been released early, while – more controversially – cases dragging through the courts for eight years or longer have been thrown out. The president’s office has refused to specify who drew up the declaration.
The Ministry of Culture has decided that a former slaughterhouse in Prague’s Holešovice district will remain a protected historical landmark. Prague Town Hall had requested a downgrading in its protected status, arguing that some parts have of the site have no historical value, and can now appeal the ministry’s ruling. The one-time slaughterhouse is today home to Holešovice market, which has been rebranded as “Prague Market” in recent years.
The Czech women’s tennis team have beaten Australia to reach the semi-finals of the Fed Cup for the fifth time in five years. Petra Kvitova lost the first set of her singles rubber against Samantha Stosur in Ostrava on Sunday and faced match-ball in the second, but she recovered to win 2-6 7-6 6-4 to give the Czech Republic an unassailable 3:0 lead on matches. The Czech women won the Fed Cup in Prague last year just weeks before the Czech men’s team triumphed in the Davis Cup, making it the first time that the country held both trophies.
Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Čech says he will be fit to play against his former club Sparta Prague in a Europa League tie in the Czech capital on Thursday. Čech broke a finger in a game for the English Premier League side last weekend, but turned out for them on Saturday wearing a protective splint. The player, who is 30, said on his own website that Chelsea’s doctors had left it up to him whether to take to the field. He has never faced Sparta since leaving the Czech club over a decade ago.