The Prague High Court, in an appeals process, upheld an earlier exemplary 26-year prison sentence for Milan Torák, who murdered his own daughter, 12 years old, in a fit of jealousy. Several days before he had threatened to take the girl’s life and also his own in a car crash, witnesses later said. The girl's mother, working as a nurse in Saudia Arabia, suffered the horror of hearing the murder over an internet line as it took place.
The head of the president’s medical team will be Health Minister Martin Holcát, according to the daily Mladá fronta Dnes. The 12-member team, which will overlook the health of President Miloš Zeman, will most likely meet regularly (unlike the medical teams of the previous two presidents which met only in case of medical problems). The positions on the president’s medical team are usually unpaid.
The interim government on Wednesday rejected draft legislation which would have allowed clients to withdraw from the recently-established “second pillar” of pension reforms (that is savings in private pension funds) at a later date if they so wished. The prime minister made clear for the government that such changes were anti-systemic. The draft amendment was proposed by former finance minister Miroslav Kalousek, who spearheaded the second pillar under the previous government. A final decision on the matter will be up to the Chamber of Deputies. Far fewer clients signed up for the second pillar before a key deadline earlier this year than previously expected; it is thought that the raising of restrictions could make the package more attractive to potential clients.
A 36-year-old Czech tourist and her 8-year-old daughter have been found dead in their hotel room in Hurghada, Egypt, a Czech Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday. One of the speculated causes of death is food poisoning, although this has not been confirmed by official sources. The husband of the woman and the father of the young girl is in hospital. In an interview with Czech Television on Tuesday afternoon, the man’s sister said he called their mother saying that he has found his wife and child already dead in the hotel room and later collapsed himself. The Czech consul in Egypt is in contact with police and the travel agency, with which the victims traveled to the country.
The leader of a German gang, which sold drugs and weapons over the internet around the country, was arrested in Brno. The German police have been investigating the 23-year-old and 50 other people for the past year. Suspecting the investigation, the man, who goes under the nickname Kronos, escaped to the Czech Republic, where the local police arrested him under a European warrant. Kronos’ group sold and distributed marijuana, amphetamines and the drug ecstasy in different parts of Germany. The police found false identification papers, anabolic steroids and guns in the Brno flat, where the man was arrested.
Heavy storms overnight caused damage around the country: fire fighters and emergency crews worked overnight to remove fallen trees from roads and rail tracks, pumping water from cellars and evacuating children’s summer camps. In Liberec a man drowned in flood waters, another was seriously injured by a falling tree. Thousands of homes were left without electricity and rail traffic was disrupted around the country. Several roads and rail routes remained closed on Tuesday morning due to fallen trees. Some regions have already calculated preliminary damages to tens of millions of crowns. In Prague, the Chodov and Můstek metro stations had to be briefly closed down to prevent flash flooding.
The advisory board of state-owned Czech Railways dismissed the general director of the company, Petr Žaluda, and the three other members of the executive board on Tuesday. Mr. Žaluda told the iDnes.cz news server that he was not allowed to attend the meeting of the advisory board, where the decision of his dismissal was made, and that he was given no indication of problems with his leadership. He has headed Czech Railways since 2008 and during that time the company undertook major modernization projects. Lucrative tenders for the modernization have been criticized in the past years for lack of transparency. The advisory board had renewed Mr. Žaluda’s latest term as general director only this January, unanimously. Transport Minister Zdeněk Žak has so far refused to comment.
The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint by the publishing company Mladá fronta against their competitors Mafra, which puts out one of the most popular Czech dailies Mladá fronta Dnes. A Prague Municipal Court rejected the complaint in 2009, and the Supreme Court turned down Mladá fronta’s appeal of the decision last February. The publisher wants Mafra to stop using their trademark name for the newspaper. The predecessor of Mladá fronta published a newspaper with the same name since 1945, but in 1989 it was purchased by a different publisher and the word Dnes was added to the title. Mafra, which now owns the newspaper, also publishes the daily Lidové noviny and other publications and was recently purchased by billionaire Andrej Babiš.
The police questioned the former defense minister Alexander Vondra on Tuesday in connection with the spying scandal that brought down the centre-right government. Former Prime Minister Petr Nečas’s chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová is accused of having ordered military intelligence to spy on the premier’s wife. The police believe that the then defense minister Vondra did not give the approval for such an investigation. The current defense minister Vlastimil Picek was questioned on Monday. The police said that they are planning to also question the acting chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, Martin Kuba, on Tuesday.
In a quarterly report on national security, the Czech intelligence service BIS has warned of an alarming rise in anti-Roma sentiments among the public. The report pointed to the fact that in the recent protests and clashes in the towns of Duchcov and České Budejovice a large number of regular citizens joined small groups of right-wing extremists. BIS experts believe that frustrations with everyday petty crime and violence in combination with latent anti-Roma sentiments may prove to be a serious threat for the security of the country in the future. Until now, smaller groups of extremists were behind the major anti-Roma clashes, and did not present a significant threat. The security report said that the ethnic tension needs to be resolved an effective, pragmatic and unemotional manner as soon as possible.
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