Prague City Hall will demand an apology from the National Geographic Channel over a report which officials say harmed the city’s reputation. The TV channel ran a story about Prague last November as part of its Scam City series. It showed the Czech capital as a haven of crime, drugs and prostitution. However, the Czech police probed some of the allegations shown in the report, and found the documentary was fake and manipulated. Prague councillor Lukáš Manhart told the news website idnes.cz on Friday the City Hall would ask the TV channel to provide an explanation and an apology in the form of a new report. He said the city would consider taking legal measures if the station refuses to deal with the issue.
The Czech food inspection authority has seized a shipment of Polish mushrooms which contained four times the allowed levels of pesticides. The authorities have notified the EU’s rapid alert system of the find. Long-term consumption of the mushrooms could harm consumers’ health, according to the authorities. The contaminated mushrooms were discovered in a shop in Trutnov, east Bohemia, and their importer now faces fines.
Due to bad weather, this year’s potato harvest in the Czech Republic will be lowest in decades, an association of potato growers said on Friday. Farmers expect to harvest around 550,000 tonnes of potatoes this year which is 20 percent less than in 2012. Poor harvest predictions have already doubled the prices of potatoes compared to last year.
A fertilizer plant in the town of West, Texas will have to pay a fine of 118,000 US dollars for major breaches of security measures which caused a massive explosion in April. Fifteen people died and hundreds of others were injured as a result of the blast in a town where the vast majority of inhabitants claim to have Czech heritage. Some 350 buildings were also destroyed and a 27-meter wide crater has formed. The Czech government gave approximately 200,000 dollars to the people of West, most of the money was meant to rebuild the local Sokol building.
The Czech national football team faces Malta away in a World Cup qualifier on Friday. The Czech team will miss captain Tomáš Rosický who is not fully fit and will not appear in the remaining qualifying games. Following recent defeats by Armenia and Italy, the Czechs only have a slim theoretical chance of advancing to the final tournament.
A Swiss court handed down prison sentences to five Czechs on Thursday for asset stripping, fraud, money-laundering and breach of trust, in a case surrounding the privatization of the Czech Republic’s second largest coal mining company, Mostecká Uhelna. The former managers, who received between 16 and 52 months in prison, used the company’s own assets to buy a majority stake in the firm, diverting some of the money into Swiss bank accounts. The Swiss authorities launched an investigation into the matter in 2011. Two of the defendants – Petr Kraus and Antonín Koláček – were detained in court, though the others were not present at the sentencing. The sixth defendant in the case, the 86-year-old Belgian citizen Jacques de Groote, will have to pay a fine for his involvement. Charges are still pending against the Czech former managers in the Czech Republic, though they may have to be dropped given the Swiss court’s decision.
According to the Palestinian news agency MAAN, Czech officials have assured the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) that the Czech Republic is not planning on moving its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv. The PLO expressed outrage at a recent statement from President Miloš Zeman that he would like to see the Czech embassy moved to Jerusalem. The Czech ambassador in Syria, Eva Filipi, told the news agency that the president’s words were misinterpreted; she said that the Czech Republic supports a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute and the right of the Palestinian people to establish an independent state with the capital in Jerusalem. The Arab League has also invited the Czech ambassador in Egypt, Pavel Kafka, to explain the Czech president’s statement to its representatives.
Close to 8,000 Czechs living abroad have registered to vote in the upcoming general elections, the Czech New Agency reports. They will be able to cast their ballot at 104 polling stations set up at Czech embassies, and some of them will have to travel hundreds of miles to do so. Czechs in Kenya, the Congo, Columbia and Costa Rica will have to travel to another country to cast their vote since the Czech Republic recently closed down its embassies in those states due to austerity measures. Voters abroad will make their choice from the Central Bohemian election ballot.
The coal and coke producer New World Resources (NWR) is planning to sell off the OKK coking plant in the Ostrava region by the end of the year. Although the final decision on the sale is yet to be approved by its shareholders, the company says it believes the move will be met with approval since it will help NWR consolidate its operation and focus more on mining. NWR recently came under a lot of criticism after its subsidiary company OKD announced the decision to shut down the Paskov coal mine by the end of next year.
Intelligence officer Jan Pohůnek gave testimony to the police on Thursday in connection to the case of unsanctioned spying involving former chief of staff of the former prime minister Petr Nečas, Jana (Nagyová) Nečasová. The police suspect the now wife of Mr. Nečas of ordering the military intelligence service to spy on the former premier’s ex-wife Radka. Mr. Pohůnek’s lawyer Michal Hráský told reporters before his client’s deposition that Radka Nečasová was not being spied on, but that the intelligence service was actually protecting her from possible spying by other parties, which could be a breach of national security.