Police have charged seven people with illegal production and sale of
marihuana over the internet.
The suspects allegedly produced large quantities of marihuana at eleven plantations in Moravia selling it to people in 75 countries.
The two main organizers, who were in charge of production and sales, may get a jail sentence of up to 12 years.
Senate committees are divided on whether the upper chamber should support
the nomination of Aleš Gerloch for the post of constitutional court judge.
The Senate’s Legal Matters committee recommended supporting the nomination, while the committee for Human Rights Issues voted against.
Senators opposing the idea cited Gerloch’s close relationship with President Zeman, who nominated him for the post. The Senate is to vote on the matter on March 20th.
The Czech Republic is marking the 20th anniversary of its entry into NATO
on March 12th, 1999. It joined the alliance together with Poland and
Hungary in NATO’s first expansion eastwards after the fall of communism
in Central and Eastern Europe. The celebrations, which include gatherings,
debates and exhibitions, are culminating at Prague Castle where President
Miloš Zeman is hosting heads of state, NATO representatives and foreign
Foreign visitors, government officials and NATO representatives have been addressing a security conference held to mark the anniversary. In his speech, Prime Minister Andrej Babis highlighted the fact that NATO membership is in the Czech Republic’s vested interest since it provides a guarantee of security. He said the Czech Republic would meet its commitment to spend two percent of the country’s GDP on defence by 2024.
Speakers addressing the conference cited international terrorism, Russia’s expansionist ambitions and cyber warfare as the main threats facing NATO today.
Among the VIP guests attending the celebrations are the former US secretary of state Madeleine Albright who was a leading voice in advocating for expansion of the military alliance to central Europe. She is among 14 people who will receive the Medal of Merit Award for Diplomacy from Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček.
A third degree avalanche alert has been declared in the Krkonoše Mountains
following several days of heavy snow and strong winds.
The mountain rescue service says the situation is extremely dangerous since a combination of factors have created a highly unstable layer of snow on many slopes.
Skiers have been warned not to take risks or stray from marked trails.
The Czech Republic’s most famous Romany singer Věra Bílá has died at
the age of 64, the news site Romea.cz reported. The singer reportedly died
in hospital after suffering a heart attack.
Bílá gained international acclaim performing Romany folk songs with the group Kale. They released their first album in 1996 and in later years performed live at venues around Europe and the United States.
Věra and Kale split up in 2005 on account of Bílá’s problems with gambling. Only this week she was planning to make a big comeback with Jan Bendig and Milan Krok, one of the singers from Kale.
Emergency work to restore power to thousands of homes continued for a
second night in succession in the wake of damage caused by the windstorm
Eberhard which swept through central Europe on Sunday night damaging roofs,
felling trees and bringing down power lines.
In the initial phase of the storm hundreds of thousands of homes were left without power, on Monday night emergency crews restored power to some 35,000 homes in hard-to-reach destinations.
Clean-up work continues in the country’s forests where the storm felled around a million trees and people around the country have started reporting damages to insurance companies. The damages are expected to be in the tens of millions of crowns.
President Miloš Zeman has said that the main benefit of NATO membership is
the security guarantees it provides.
Speaking in an interview for the CTK news agency on the eve of the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s entry to NATO, President Zeman said the main threat facing the alliance today is international terrorism.
He said in this connection that he would support a re-enforcement of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan.
He criticized peace-talks with the Taliban, comparing them to the policy of appeasement of the Western powers at the outset of WWII.
An agreement with the Taliban would mean that it would once again make Afghanistan a base for international terrorism, Zeman warned.
Finance Minister Alena Schillerová will be holding one-on-one talks with
individual cabinet ministers this week to try to agree on cost-cutting
measures that would save next year’s state budget 25 billion crowns and
keep the deficit below 40 billion crowns.
The finance minister has said the cuts are necessary in view of the slowing economy and has suggested individual ministers put forward their own suggestions as to where money could best be saved.
Minister Schillerová herself has suggested making redundant 10 percent of public sector employees.
The opposition has criticized the government for squandering money and the Communist Party, whose votes are essential to keeping the minority government in office, is calling for a 30 billion crown deficit next year.
Interior Minister Jan Hamáček has said he is confident that there were no
police leaks from the investigation surrounding the company Kapsch and the
Czech anti-monopoly office in Brno.
Following a meeting with Police President Jan Švejdar, Minister Hamáček said that the information acquired by the media was from documents given to suspects implicated in the case and their lawyers. He said no information from police wiretappings had got out.
Police President Švejdar defended his men earlier, saying that no information at all had escaped until the raids were conducted, and said it was not possible to keep the case completely under wraps once people had been charged.
The country’s organised crime unit last week raided the Prague headquarters of the Austrian firm Kapsch, the Brno headquarters of the anti-monopoly office and the home of ANO deputy chair Jaroslav Faltýnek, among others, on suspicion of corruption.
Kapsch’s CEO Karel Feix, the head of the anti-monopoly office Petr Rafaj and several others are suspected of having tried to manipulate a tender to operate the electronic toll collection system in the Czech Republic.