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Ministers clash over relaxation of mining limits

Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jan Mládek said Thursday that he is favour of a partial relaxation of existing limits of mining brown coal in the country. Mládek repeated his stance ahead of a demonstration by miners in Prague. But Minister of Finance and ANO leader Andrej Babiš immediately reacted by saying he is opposed to any changes in the limits imposed at the start of the 1990s. Mládek has admitted that one of the options for relaxing the limits could involve partial demolition of the town of Horní Jiřetín.

Prime Ministers agree to step up three-way regional cooperation

Prime ministers of the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Austria met at the town of Slavkov, outside Brno, on Thursday and agreed to step up their cooperation on key cross border issues. These include tackling youth unemployment, developing regional gas networks, the pumping of European funds, and transport links. The three premiers agreed that they should repeat the same three-way format next year as well. The three prime ministers also laid wreaths at the site of the 1805 Napoleonic battle just outside the town.

Crime levels fall in Prague, but murders and rape reports on the rise

Police say crime levels in Prague fell to their lowest levels since 1991 last year. They say they were called out to probe just under 72,000 criminal cases, around 12 percent down on 2013. The clear up rate across the board came to 25 percent of cases, that is the best figure since 2002. Car thefts and theft of property from cars, pickpocketing, and burglary were all down. Thefts of bicycles were up. The number of murders increased last year to 28 with eight of the cases still unsolved. Rapes increased to 128 from 88. Police said that rise was partly due to greater reporting of cases.

Norwegian PM intervenes in Czech childcare case

Norway’s Prime Minister Erna Solberg has hit back at the politicization of the case of two Czech brothers subject to Norwegian care authorities, according to a report by Czech Television. She said it was not for politicians to intervene in individual cases, referring to the case of the sons of Czech mother Eva Michálková. She added that when weighing up care orders no difference was made in Norwegian law between the of Norwegian and foreign born children. Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka took up the Michálková case last week with the Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week firing off a second diplomatic note to Norway over it. Czech Christian Democrat member of the European Parliament Tomáš Zdechovský raised the case in the parliament this week saying that Norwegian authorities had removed the children from their parents on the basis of flawed evaluations.

Police says number of illegal foreigners jumps in 2014

The Czech Foreigners’ Police said Thursday that they discovered 4,822 cases of foreign citizens living illegally in the Czech Republic last year. That is a 669 increase on the total in 2013. Ukrainians accounted for most of the illegal foreigners, followed by Kuwaiti’s and Russians. The number of illegal Syrians climbed to 146 from 39 in 2013.

Total smoking ban in bars and restaurants suggested by health ministry proposal

A total ban on smoking in bars, restaurants, and public places could be in force in 2016, under a proposal put forward by Ministry of Health and published on Wednesday. The ban would also cover electronic cigarettes. The proposal also touches on the sale of alcohol with a demand that restaurants and bars sell at least one non-alcoholic drink at a price cheaper than a beer or other alcoholic drink featuring on the menu. Surveys suggest that around 80 percent of Czechs favour a smoking ban in restaurants and bars. At the moment bars and restaurants can choose if they want to impose smoking banks or limits on their premises.

North Korean from ruling family becomes Czech ambassador

Kim Pyong- Il, the younger half brother of the former leader of North Korea Kim Jong Il and son of the regimes founder Kim Il-Sung, was accepted as North Korea’s ambassador to the Czech Republic on Thursday. His credentials were accepted, along with four other new ambassadors, by President Miloš Zeman at Prague Castle. Kim Pyong-Il had previously been ambassador in Poland for the past 17 years. Experts on the North Korean regime say Kim Pyong- Il has been kept in virtual exile at a series of European posts because he is feared as a possible rival to leaders if he returns home.

Czech ombudswoman highlights problems of pensions offering elderly care

Czech ombudswoman Anna Šabotová has repeated her warnings about the state of some non registered care facilities for elderly in the country. She highlighted the state of four facilities across the country, two were so bad that the details were forwarded to state prosecutors with a view to possible criminal charges. The facilities were ostensibly run as pensions to bypass proper checks but nonetheless offered care for elderly. Šabotová’s office found that some of the elderly were not allowed to move about freely, they were not given enough food and drink, and the wrong drugs and doses were given to them. The number of elderly homes parading as pensions is not known. Šabotová first warned about such facilities last year.

Czech au pair sentenced for child abuse by British court

A Czech has been given a 10 year jail sentence by a British court for abusing a young boy and being in possession of more than 30,000 child porn images. The 25-year-old, who was working as an au pair, was caught by police when they raided a Bradford home where he was caring for two children. They found a vast quantity of child porn images. The child abuse charges related to a young boy in the Czech Republic, the images from which he later circulated on the internet. The Czech said he wanted to serve his sentence in his homeland rather than Britain.

Tomáš Berdych falls at Australian Open semi-final

In tennis, Tomáš Berdych has crashed out of the Australian Open in his semi-final tie against Scot Andy Murray. Berdych went ahead in a tight first set by taking the tie break 8:6. But Murray stormed back to take the second 6:0 and won the third with a comfortable 6:3. Berdych rallied in the fourth but Murray broke his serve for a 6:5 advantage and then served out for the match.