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PM Sobotka says spending should be boosted for security service

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka has suggested that the domestic security service be strengthened to counter the threat of terrorism. Sobotka said that the competences of the Security Information Service (BIS) has been undermined by spending cuts and that it was now time to reverse them. Interior minister Milan Chovanec told Czech Television that it could take a decade before the process could be complete and results would start to show.

Increased security cooperation sought with France, says PM Sobotka

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said on Monday that the Czech Republic and France should boost their cooperation to counter the threat of terrorism. Sobotka was speaking after visiting the French embassy in Prague and signing the book of condolence for the victims of the attack on the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and other following attacks in and around Paris. Sobotka said he was sure increased security for citizens could be offered without limiting their freedom of movement and other basic liberties.

Record visitor numbers for heritage sites in 2014

More than half a million more people visited the castles, stately homes, and other sites administered by the National Heritage Institute in 2014 compared with a year earlier, the organization announced on Monday. Visitor numbers in 2014 totaled around 4.8 million, up 575,000 compared with the previous 12 months. The figures for 2014 also appear to be the best for the previous five years, although the institute has altered its counting methodology. The most visited site was the Lednice complex in South Moravia, followed by Česky Krumlov and Hlubokė nad Vltavou.

Italian suspect of poison letter to Czech finance minister detained

An Italian man suspected of sending poison to Czech minister of finance Andrej Babiš has been arrested by police in the western Slovenian border city of Nova Gorica. According to Slovenian sources, the 22-year-old was detained on December 22 and remains in custody on suspicion of terrorism. A letter containing poison was delivered to Babiš in November from Slovenia. Another poison letter was sent to the interior minister, but this was apparently sent from Sweden. Czech police said they are cooperating with Slovenian colleagues.

Public excluded from case connected with fall of former PM Petr Nečas

Court proceedings restarted Monday in the case of the head of former prime minister Petr Nečas’ private office, Jana Nagyová, and three members of the military intelligence service. Members of the public were cleared from the courtroom while secret evidence was heard. The four are accused of abusing public office when the intelligence service was allegedly used to spy on Nečas’ former wife. The scandal surrounding the case caused the fall of Nečas’ coalition government in July 2012. Nagyová later went on to marry Nečas. Intelligence officers maintain heir was no abuse of office and they had been instructed to keep an eye on suspect associates of the prime minister’s former wife.

Two options advanced for relaxing mining limits

Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek has come up with two options according to which existing mining limits could be relaxed. The options would allow the limits to be relaxed at just the Bílina mine owned by ČEZ company SeveroČeský Doly (SČD) or both it and the ČSA mine owned by Severní Energetiká. Both options would not threaten the demolition of the two towns Horní Jiřetín and Černice which lie on the edge of the exiting limits. Mládek is to continue talks.

EPH to buy seven power plants in Italy

The second biggest power company in the Czech Republic, Energetický a Průmyslový Holding (EPH) has announced the purchase of seven Italian power stations with a total capacity of 4,500 MW from German energy group E.ON. The buys comprise six gas-fired plants on the mainland and one coal fired power station in Sardinia. EPH bosses have targeted the Italian electricity market because electricity prices are much higher than the European average. Late last year EPH also announced the purchase of a British coal fired power plant with capacity of around 2,000 MW.

Czech crown weakens further on fears of new euro target rate

The Czech crown continued to weaken in trading on Monday, at one time hitting 28.4 crowns to the euro. The crown already slipped to a six year low against the euro on Friday following the announcement of Czech inflation figures for December. The annual inflation rate fell to 0.1 percent from November’s 0.6 percent. This has fuelled fears that the Czech National Bank could set a new lower target euro exchange rate for the crown. Travel agents have already warned that foreign holidays will be more expensive for Czechs.

Sparta Prague signs young Albanian midfielder

In football, Sparta Prague has named Albanian international midfielder Herolind Shala as the replacement for Josef Hušbauer, who was sold to Italian club Cagliari. The 22-year-old Albanian comes from Norwegian club Odds BK where he made a name for himself as a prolific scorer from set pieces. Belgian club Standard Liege has also been reportedly keen to sign up the young player.

Prague car chase participant contests 150 kph speeding in centre

A 26 old whose alleged 150 kilometer an hour car chase with police through the centre of Prague in February last year came to an end when he crashed into two police cars, told a court on Monday that he would have given up earlier if he had known the city better and realized he did not have a chance. The unemployed man said he had come to the capital for a job interview. However, he was driving a stolen Volkswagen car with a false registration. The man said he panicked when he thought he was going to be detained by police and lose his license. The main was eventually stopped when he crashed into two police cars injuring three officers. He said he doubted whether he really reached speeds of 150 kilometers an hour.