The Palestinian ambassador to the Czech Republic, Jamal al Jamal, who was
gravely injured in an explosion in his Prague residence on Wednesday, has
died. The ambassador succumbed to his injuries several hours after being
taken to Prague’s military hospital in an induced coma.
According to unconfirmed reports the ambassador was opening a safe when the explosion happened shortly before noon. His whole family was in the ambassadorial residence at the time, but no one else was hurt in the blast.
Police and explosives experts have been searching the two-storey residence and part of the neighbourhood remains closed to traffic. According to police spokeswoman Andrea Zoulova the detonation was caused by a so-far unidentified explosive mixture. Police president Martin Červíček told Czech Television there was no evidence so far pointing to a terrorist attack. One of the possibilities being considered is that the explosion may have been triggered by a security device in the safe containing a mechanism designed to destroy its contents in the event of the lock being tampered with.
The authorities have called a smog alert in Moravia and Silesia where air pollution has severely worsened in the past 48 hours. According to meteorologists the concentration of dust particles in the air far exceeding permitted norms at all monitoring stations and in some cases is five times higher than the permitted norm. Pollution levels are reported to be highest in and around Karvina, Ostrava and Opava. The authorities have advised elderly people and children to stay indoors as much as possible. Drivers have been asked use city transport and leave their cars at home. The situation is being closely monitored by city hall which may ask industrial plants to scale-down production.
The 2007 world slalom champion Šárka Záhrobská-Strachová has been chosen to be the Czech Republic’s flag bearer at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. It has been an eventful year for the popular Czech skier who following a serious health scare successfully recovered from brain surgery to remove a benign tumour, married her coach and is now competing under her new name.
The Bavarian police will intensify its activities in the vicinity of the Czech-German border in view of curbing cross-border crime, in particular drugs smuggling, Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Hermann says in Wednesday’s edition of Die Welt. The minister said the police would make it a priority to curb the smuggling of the home-made Czech drug crystal methamphetamine across the border to Bavaria. This includes an increased number of random checks of Czech vehicles crossing the border. Prague has in the past protested against the practice calling it discriminatory.
The Constitutional Court is to rule on Thursday on a complaint from the former central Bohemian governor David Rath regarding the length of time he was held in custody on suspicion of corruption and abuse of office. The former governor, who was arrested with seven million crowns of alleged bribe money in a wine box, spent a year and a half in prison after the courts repeatedly rejected his request for bail. Rath’s lawyer claims the length of his detention in custody was unjustified and an infringement on his basic human rights.
Electricity prices for households will drop by 10.9 percent on average as of January, while the regulated component in the price of gas will drop by 5.9 percent. ČEZ clients can expect the biggest price drop of around 12 percent, Pražská Energetika has announced a 9.5 percent drop while E.ON is effecting an 8.8 percent price reduction.
Four Czech newborns, who came into the world a minute past midnight, will share the title “First Baby of the New Year” the ctk news agency reported. The four who tied for the honour are a baby girl from Liberec, two baby boys born in Moravia and another boy who came into the world in Zlin. Many moms race to give birth in the first minutes of the new year, anticipating publicity, prizes and presents for their child.
President Miloš Zeman is to meet with Social Democrat leader and the country’s likely next prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka before the end of this week to discuss the line-up of the new government, the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček told the ctk news agency on Tuesday. He said it was unlikely that the president would name Mr. Sobotka prime minister this week. The president is expected to raise reservations regarding a number of ministerial nominees and the heads of the three parties of the emerging centre-left coalition have pledged to take a united stand in backing the cabinet line-up. The Social Democrats, ANO and the Christian Democrats are to sign a coalition agreement on January 6th.
The Czech power giant ČEZ has said it will appeal the decision of the Bulgarian energy regulator to cut energy prices for consumers from January 2014. A spokesman for the company said ČEZ was now analyzing projected losses which are expected to be severe. The Bulgarian State Energy Commission this week announced a plan to reduce electricity prices for Bulgarian households by one per cent starting January, at the same time cutting the night-time rate by 10 per cent and electricity prices for industrial consumers by 1.5 per cent. Electricity prices have been a sensitive issue in Bulgaria this year, one of the major complaints behind massive anti-government protests and energy prices have already been reduced twice in 2013 to stave of growing public discontent.
Vladimir Remek, a Czech MEP for the Communist Party is expected to take up the post of Czech ambassador to Russia in mid-January when he is to hand over his credentials to President Vladimir Putin, the CTK news agency reports. Remek is now preparing for his new post at the Czech Foreign Ministry. The post of Czech ambassador in Russia has been vacant for a year. The last ambassador, Petr Kolář, was withdrawn at his own request at the end of 2012.