The trial of a Czech soldier on terrorism charges for joining pro-Russian
separatists fighting in Ukraine began at the Regional Court in Pardubice on
Tuesday. Erik Eštu testified that he had been in Ukraine to get to know
his wife’s country of origin better. He said he had had his photograph
taken in a separatist forces uniform and carrying a gun as a souvenir.
He is accused of guarding a trench at the front, carrying out weapons maintenance and guarding the entrance to the living quarters of members of the Republican Guard, one of a number of separatist groups taking part in the war in Donbass.
The soldier denied visiting the front, saying local patrols had prevented him a friend from doing so. The incidents in question took place in 2015, before Mr. Eštu joined the Czech Army, where he is now serving in an airborne battalion.
Karolína Plíšková and Markéta Vondroušová have reached the
quarter-finals of tennis’s Miami Open and will now face each other. The
fifth-seeded Plíšková overcame Yulia Putsineva of Kazakhstan on Monday,
while Vondroušová beat Tatjana Maria of Germany.
The Czechs’ compatriot Petra Kvitová is also in the last eight in Miami, where Ashleigh Barty of the US stands between her and a first appearance in the tournament's semi-finals.
Officers from the police’s national organised crime unit carried out
raids in a number of the places in the Czech Republic on Tuesday morning.
Czech Television reported that they also planned to search law offices.
Early this month organised crime specialists raided the Prague offices of Austrian company Kapsch, the Office for the Protection of Competition in Brno, a Brno district town hall and the home of ANO deputy leader Jaroslav Faltýnek.
Kapsch CEO Karel Feix, the head of the anti-monopoly office, Petr Rafaj, and several others are suspected of trying to manipulate a tender to operate an electronic motorway toll system in the Czech Republic.
Prague City Hall has agreed to a request from Zdena Mašín to exhume her
mother’s remains from a mass grave in Prague’s Ďáblice cemetary.
The city hall earlier ruled out the possibility in view of the complications of exhuming remains from a mass grave. The respective documents which might have helped locate her remains were lost in a fire.
Zdena Mašín, sister of the Mašín brothers, who dramatically escaped from Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s, requested the exhumation so as to be able to give her mother a dignified burial.
Her mother, Zdena Mašínová, was a freedom fighter jailed by the Nazis and later by the Communists. She was convicted of espionage and treason in a communist show trial and later moved from jail to a labour camp where she died in 1956.
President Miloš Zeman and Prime Minister Andrej Babiš met for talks at
Lány chateau on Monday evening, within the framework of their regular
monthly consultations on matters of state.
The prime minister said they had discussed state finances in connection with next year’s budget, issues relating to Brexit and the police investigation into suspected corruption involving the anti-trust office and the firm Kapsch. Police suspect the head of the anti-trust office Petr Rafaj of corruption and there have been calls for his dismissal.
The president said earlier he would wait for the outcome of the police investigation before taking a stand, while the prime minister said he would summon Petr Rafaj to the Office of the Government for an explanation.
The Czech Republic, which was poised to scrap the strict control measures
imposed on Polish meat imports on Monday, is still waiting for written
guarantees from Poland pertaining to its own control measures which would
guarantee safe imports in the future.
Agriculture Minister Miroslav Toman, who discussed the issue with his Polish counterpart and the EU commissioner for agriculture last week said the agreed on measures were adequate and controls would cease as soon as the Czech Republic received assurances that they had been implemented.
According to Petr Majer from the State Veterinary Authority if the written guarantees arrive on Tuesday the controls could be called off on Wednesday.
The strict control measures were introduced shortly after Czech veterinary authorities confirmed salmonella- infected meat in beef and poultry imports from Poland.
Imam Leonid Kushnarenko, head of the Prague Muslim Community, has been
removed from office and expelled from the community. Both the Czech Muslim
Community and its Prague branch distanced themselves from Kushnarenko after
he posted a call on Facebook for Muslims to arm themselves in response to
the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The head of the Czech Muslim Community Munib Alvari said the vote to expel Kushnarenko had been unanimous. Kushnarenko, who on Facebook offered to help any community members who wanted to acquire an arms license to protect their lives and property, said he would not appeal the decision and said it was important for emotions to subside.
President Miloš Zeman is to meet for talks with Prime Minister Andrej
Babiš at Lány chateau on Monday evening.
According to the president’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček the talks over dinner are expected to focus on planned cuts in next year’s state budget and issues relating to Brexit.
The Czech president and prime minister meet on a fairly regular basis to discuss matters of state.
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