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Cabinet selects new ‘super civil servant’

The Czech Cabinet on Wednesday selected its so-called ‘super civil servant’ from a shortlist of three candidates. The holder of the new post at the top of the civil service is Josef Postránecký, who has been in government service for the last 17 years. His latest posts have been in the Ministry of Interior with previous postings in the Ministry for Regional Development. The post has been created in connection with the reform of the Czech civil service which is aimed at creating a professional and non-politicized administration which falls into line with demands from the European Commission.

Prague’s DOX centre opens Charlie Hebdo exhibition

The DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague launched an exhibition of more than 200 front covers from the French satirical weekly ‘Charlie Hebdo’on Wednesday. The exhibition draws on examples held by a private collector and will run until March 9. Charlie Hebdo hit the headlines worldwide when attackers shot down many of its editorial team in an attack at the start of January. A similar exhibition planned at the Belgian city of Louvain-La-Neuve was cancelled for security reasons.

Škoda Auto prepares transfer of up to 800 workers

The Czech Republic’s biggest car maker, Škoda Auto, is preparing itself for tougher times and a downfall in demand in spite of its record breaking year in 2014. The company is reported by the daily Mladá Fronta Dnes on Wednesday to be preparing a programme whereby hundreds of workers will be transferred and become contract workers for external companies. The move, affecting up to 800 workers, is part of an organizational shake up under which Škoda Auto focuses on manufacturing cars and other activities are spun off to external companies. Unions say they are prepared to strike over the move.

Bavarian police say pervitin haul down in 2014

Bavarian police say they intercepted 15 kilogrammes of pervitin which traffickers tried to pass across the Czech border last year. That total is down by half compared with the total intercepted in 2013, but around the same levels as 2012. But German police say the intensity of drugs being shipped across the border has not diminished. Rather, the hike in pervitin seizures in 2013 resulted from a massive police clampdown on trafficking that year.

Rare iron age burial site discovered in Prague

Archeologists says they have found a rare burial site in Prague dating from the seventh or eighth century BC. The two graves apparently belonged to highly placed members of society given the rich hoard of effects found in the burial chambers. The effects include the remains of the burial carriage and equipment used by horses during the iron age. Only one similar burial site to the latest discovery at Letňany has been made previously in Prague and that was more than a century ago.

Minister aims to make justice system cheaper and more effective within four years

The minister of justice, Helena Válková, says she wants to introduce reforms within a maximum of four years that will make the Czech justice system cheaper and more effective. Minister Válková outlined her vision in a meeting with the new chairman of the Supreme Court, Pavel Šámal; he told journalists afterwards that the most important issue surrounding the reform would be the number of courts of first instance. Justice Šámal said some such courts were very small and created problems both in terms of staffing and the exercise of justice.

Train crashes into landslide in north Bohemia

Nine people were injured when a train collided with boulders which fell on the track during a landslide near Semíly in north-east Bohemia. The train driver was the worst casualty and was helicoptered from the accident scene to the hospital at Liberec. Accident investigators said he had no chance to brake the train in time. The line is expected to be closed for the whole day.

Investigation after wrongly mixed medicine almost kills babies

Police in Hradec Králové, have concluded an investigation into an incident at a hospital in the East Bohemian city in which new-born babies were given wrongly mixed medicine that almost caused their deaths. Three babies were given a preparation containing several times the prescribed amount of the barbiturate phenobarbital at the turn of August and September last year. A police spokesperson said the babies had been saved by the timely intervention of a doctor at the hospital. The case was first treated as a serious criminal act but investigators concluded it had been due to accident.

Lucie Šafářová reaches women’s doubles final at Australian Open

Czech tennis player Lucie Šafářová has reached the women’s doubles finals at the Australian Open. Together with US partner Bethanie Mattek Sands, she cruised to an easy 6:0 win against German opponents Julie Görges and Anna-Lena Grönefeld in the first set before the pair conceded. In the final the Czech-American pair will face Taiwan’s Yung-Jan Chan and China’s Jie Zheng.

Forecasters warns of snow drift threat

Forecasters are warning of the dangers of snow drifts, especially in Eastern Moravia and Silesia, when winds combine with snow showers overnight. The winds are expected to reach speeds of up to 110 kilometres an hour on high ground over 600 metres. The meteorological office says that difficult conditions could affect almost the whole country with the exception of Prague and central Bohemia.