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Supreme Audit Office uncovers shortcomings in use of EU funds by Prague

The country’s Supreme Audit Office has found shortcomings in how Prague used EU funds drawn in the years 2007 – 2013. Improperly accounted for are several million crowns from an operational programme called Prague – Competitiveness, the bureau’s spokeswoman Olga Málková said on Monday. The probe launched by the office covered 17 projects worth a total of one billion crowns, which were divided among 12 recipients. The funds made up 19 percent of the total spent within the operational programme, the Czech News Agency said. The district of Prague 11, for example, received more than 33 million crowns for the revitalization of city parks but was unable to provide documentation for how more than 10 million were spent. Other shortcomings were found in other areas; a spokeswoman for the city said steps would be taken to avoid similar developments in the future.

Two police officers die in car crash

Two police officers died – and a third suffered serious injuries – in a car crash in the region of Česká Lípa on Monday. In the tragic incident, shortly after 8 AM, the police officers’ van collided head-on with a truck on the I/38. The driver of the other vehicle suffered light injuries. The surviving officer was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Liberec. The crash is under investigation but witnesses said it was the police van which had swerved into the opposite lane. Fresh snow and ice patches have made conditions treacherous in places.

Fresh snow and icy conditions complicating traffic around the country

Fresh snow and icy conditions are complicating traffic around the country. The regions of Usti nad Labem, Liberec and Karlovy Vary are having the most problems with poor visibility and snow drifts on less frequented roads. Drivers setting out for the mountain regions have been warned to exercise extreme caution. Day temperatures have been forecast at between -4 and -9 degrees Celsius.

Experts continue clearing work at munitions site, despite fresh snowfall

Despite the fresh snowfall pyrotechnics experts are continuing clearing work at a damaged munitions site in Vrbětice near Zlín. They are focusing efforts on making roads in the munitions complex safe, police spokesman Petr Jaroš said. The transfer of munitions to a safer site is set to begin sometime in January. If more snow falls in the meantime, however, additional clearing work may need to be postponed.

Czech Army to expand its special forces

The Czech Army is planning to expand its special forces and will invest tens of millions of crowns into a new logistics unit and air squadron, the chief of staff of the armed forces, General Petr Pavel, told Czech Television. The new logistics unit counting 200 men will serve the special forces in Prostejov which are deployed in foreign missions. Czech troops are currently serving in Afghanistan, Mali and the Balkans.

Regional court facilitates seizure and sale of property belonging to “mystery Czech”

Prague’s regional court has announced that property belonging to 36-year-old Marek P. – the “mystery Czech” who was found in Oslo last December suffering severe loss of memory - will be catalogued and sold to pay for the man’s outstanding debts, a total of around 3.3 million crowns. A custodian, representing Marek P. in court, said the Czech national’s whereabouts were unknown, remaining a secret even to the man’s parents. In the past, Marek P. expressed fear for his life after allegedly being held against his will last year and possibly suffering sexual abuse. He made clear he would leave the Czech Republic as soon as possible after getting his papers in order. If the court proves unable to find and sell off property to cover what he owes, the debts will stand and increase due to interest.

Young Christians descend on Prague

Thousands of young Christians from more than 60 countries are arriving in the Czech capital to take part in a European meet-up organized by the Taizé ecumenical community. It is the second time in 24 years the event is being held in Prague; organisers expect up to 30,000 visitors. A first communal prayer is to be held on Monday night. Upcoming programmes include workshops focusing on spirituality, understanding across religions, the legacy of religious reformer Jan Hus, the Battle of the White Mountain, as well as the issues of solidarity, minorities and palliative care.

Concert being held at Lucerna Palace in honour of Havel

A charity concert in honour of Czechoslovakia’s first post-communist president, Václav Havel, is being held on Monday night at Prague’s Lucerna Palace. The former dissident and playwright, who died in 2011, was elected president for the first time on this day 25 years ago. Bands performing on Monday include Cuban punk anti-communists Porno para Ricardo, whose frontman was repeatedly jailed by the Castro regime. Russian folk band Arkadiy Kots, supporters of Pussy Riot when its members were jailed, will also take to the stage as well as the Plastic People of the Universe and others.

Downhill skier Strachová clinches first podium finish in five years

Czech downhill skier Šárka Strachová finished second in the World Cup slalom in Kuehtai, Austria, on Monday – her first podium finish in five years. She finished 0.80 behind Olympic and defending World Champion Mikaela Shiffrin of the United States. Wendy Holdener of Switzerland was third, trailing by 0.92.

Agent: Olympiakos interested in Rosický

Czech midfielder Tomáš Rosický’s agent Petr Paska has told news website aktualne.cz that interest in the player from Greek football club Olympiakos was real although “nothing was decided at this time”. According to some sources, the club is offering three million euros for the Arsenal player; in 2006 the Gunners paid 10 million for the player’s transfer from Dortmund. Rosický’s career with the London club in the past stalled due to a lengthy injury; recently the 34-year-old scored the winner against QPR with his first goal of the season; but he was not on the roster in the club’s next match against West Ham. The transfer window opens in January.