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Supreme Court chairwoman Iva Brožová announces immediate resignation

The chairwoman of the Supreme Court, Iva Brožová, has announced her resignation. Justice Brožová, who is 63, said she would step down on Wednesday for age reasons and to help ensure other changes in the court’s leadership went smoothly. On Thursday President Miloš Zeman will appoint long-term Supreme Court judge Pavel Šámal as her replacement. A former justice minister, Pavel Blažek, questioned the reasons given for Justice Brožová’s departure; he said it was the result of a plot between elements of the judiciary and the president’s office.

Coalition backs closing large stores on state holidays after ANO climb-down

The coalition government has given its backing to a Senate bill limiting working hours on state holidays. The chairman of the Christian Democrats’ deputies club, Jiří Mihol, said the parties had reached agreement on the matter at a coalition council meeting on Monday. Government party ANO had previously expressed opposition to the change under which retail outlets with floor space exceeding 200 square metres would have to close on New Year’s Day, Easter Monday and five other state holidays. The Czech Confederation of Commerce and Tourism has come out against the plan, saying it should be up to retailers when to open.

Norwegian authorities reduce Czech mother’s access to children taken into care

The authorities in Norway have reduced a Czech mother’s access to her children to two visits of 15 minutes a year. A decision on whether to put the two boys up for adoption has not yet been reached. Mother Eva Michaláková, her lawyers and a delegation of Czech politicians are in Norway at present for talks with Norwegian authorities. They removed the children from the care of their Czech parents in 2011 on suspicion that they were being sexually abused; however, the police have ruled out that possibility. Mrs. Michaláková told Czech Radio that the only Norwegian law she had broken was to slap the children on the behind when they were disobedient. She said she had not abused them and was not a bad mother. After the mother applied to a Norwegian court last year to have the children returned, the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs assured Norway that it would monitor the children and their parents if they were allowed to return to the Czech Republic.

Court overturns verdicts in deadly bootleg spirits case

A court has overturned the verdicts of seven people charged in connection with a bootleg spirits scandal that left over 40 people dead. In a closed session on Tuesday, the Olomouc Supreme Court returned the case to the Zlín District Court. It will hear the case of Tomáše Křepela and Rudolf Fian, given life terms for mixing the illegal booze, on February 4. In September 2012 the sale of all spirits was banned throughout the Czech Republic for over a week following a series of deaths by poisoning.

Minister says castration should be retained as treatment option

Czech health minister Svatopluk Němeček says the option of surgical castration for sexual deviants should be maintained if they choose to undergo such treatment. His comments followed a report on the process in response to criticism from the European Union. The report to the government on Monday pointed out that 88 percent of those questioned said they had volunteered freely for castration and just over half said they would make the same choice again. The report said castration, which stops the influence of the male hormone testosterone, results in repeat sexual offences by only 4 percent of former offenders. Less than 10 such operations are carried out on average in the Czech Republic every year.

Zeman accuses Ukraine PM of rewriting history over German TV interview

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has sharply criticised the Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, for comparing the current conflict in eastern Ukraine to World War II, the news website Novinky.cz reported. Mr. Yatsenyuk recently told German TV station ARD that everybody remembered the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. Mr. Zeman’s spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said on Tuesday that the Czech president viewed the statement as an attempt to turn the history of WWII on its head. The Czech president has frequently criticised Mr. Yatsenyuk, whom he has described as a “war premier”.

Lands Office refuses to return property to abbey as part of restitution process

The State Lands Office has refused to hand over property previously owned by a Benedictine abbey as part of the church restitution process. In a news release, the agency said that the Abbey of St. Wenceslas in Broumov, East Bohemia had forfeited 500 parcels of land and three buildings prior to the communist takeover in February 1948 and therefore had no right to its return. Assets valued at CZK 75 billion are being handed back to churches under a restitution law passed in 2012; they will also receive CZK 60 billion in lieu of properties not being returned.

Karlovy Vary symbolic geyser closed to public

Karlovy Vary’s symbolic mineral geyser is to be closed to the public until the start of February. The two week closure will allow pipes transporting the boiling hot mineral water to be cleaned. Spa treatments using the water, which can reach temperatures of 72 degrees Celsius, will also be temporarily suspended. The mineral water geyser of up to 12 metres is the symbol of the Czech Republic’s biggest spa resort and one of the main attractions for thousands of tourists every year.

Czech cinema attendance, receipts rise slightly higher in 2014

There was a five percent year-on-year increase in cinema-going in the Czech Republic in 2014, according to figures released by the Czech Union of Film Distributors on Tuesday. In total there were 11.6 million cinema visits last year in the Czech Republic, a country with a population of around 10.5 million. Box office receipts were 3 percent higher than in 2013. The most popular film was the fairy tale Three Brothers, followed by the most recent Hobbit movie and How to Train Your Dragon 2.

All four Czech women in action on day two advance to second round of Australian Open

All four Czech women players in action on Tuesday have reached the second round of tennis's Australian Open in Melbourne. That means that a total of eight Czech women have made it to round two of the first Grand Slam of the year. Petra Kvitová – seeded fourth in the competition – was among those who advanced on Tuesday, when she beat Richel Hogenkamp of the Netherlands 6-1 6-4.