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Zaorálek: Filipinos also believe group including Czech were kidnapped by Islamic State

The Czech minister of foreign affairs, Lubomír Zaorálek, says the authorities in the Philippines also believe that a group of foreign workers including one Czech were kidnapped by Islamic State in Libya on Friday. Mr. Zaorálek made the comment after speaking to his Filipino counterpart, Alberto del Rosario on Tuesday. The Austrian Foreign Ministry had said on Monday that the nine-member group, which also includes one Austrian citizen and four Filipinos, had been taken hostage by Islamic State radicals. The Czech man, who has not been named, is reported to have been working as a caterer for the oilfield management company Value Added Oilfield Services.

Situation surrounding Czech kidnapped by Islamic state very serious, says Zeman

The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has described the situation surrounding a Czech kidnapped in Libya along with a group of other foreign workers as very serious. His spokesman Jiří Ovčáček said the president was following the situation extremely closely. The head of state also praised the work of Czech diplomats and said he appreciated being informed about developments by Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek.

Czech TV decision to not show news conference “revenge” for Zeman comments, says spokesman

President Miloš Zeman’s spokesman says Czech Television’s decision to not broadcast live a news conference he gave on Tuesday was “childish revenge” for comments the head of state recently made about the station. Jiří Ovčáček said the president’s office was considering making a complaint to the Radio and Television Council over the matter. Last week Mr. Zeman accused Czech Television of not being a genuine public service broadcaster and questioned its current license fee funding model. The station has previously broadcast Mr. Ovčáček’s news conferences live on its news channel. Czech TV said it had no reason to believe that the spokesman was going to release any new information at the one held on Tuesday.

Ex-minister Vondra tells court he was unaware of alleged spying ordered by PM’s chief of staff

Former defence minister Alexandr Vondra has testified at the trial of Jana Nagyová on charges of ordering military intelligence officers to surveil the former wife of erstwhile prime minister Petr Nečas. His centre-right government fell following the arrest of his then chief of staff. Mr. Vondra, a one-time cabinet colleague of Mr. Nečas, told a Prague court on Tuesday that he was unaware any monitoring had taken place. He said he had been unable to believe his ears when he heard about the Nagyová case in the summer of 2013, when it came to light. Jana Nagyová is now married to Mr. Nečas.

Mother of boys in foster care in Norway is to be allowed to meet with them

The mother of two Czech boys who were taken into foster care in Norway in 2011 over allegations of sexual abuse, is to be allowed to see her children separately later this month. Eva Michalíková, who has been fighting a battle to see her children returned, on the grounds that no sexual abuse was proven and no charges were pressed, refused to reveal further details regarding the planned meeting, saying she did not want it disrupted by the media or used against her. Ms. Michalíková last saw her children, aged six and nine, a year ago.

Sculpture at Prague’s Bubny train station recalls victims of transports

A new sculpture has been unveiled at Prague’s Bubny train station in honour of the Jewish victims of Nazi transports forced to leave from there for concentration and death camps during WWII. Entitled Gate of No Return, the large work by sculptor Aleš Veselý consists of a section of track at a 45-degree angle as if leading to the skies. It is part of a Memorial of Silence being prepared at the Prague 7 station that organisers say is also intended to foster discussion on the legacy of the Holocaust.

Prague delays decision on arbitration over Blanka tunnel faulty cables

Prague councilors have postponed a decision on whether to launch another arbitration hearing over the Blanka tunnel project. The officials are considering taking action against a firm, ČKD Praha DIZ, that supplied cables destroyed during flooding last year. However, they said they would give the company until Friday to put forward a solution. The 37-billion crown tunnel was due to open after numerous delays in April; however, it will now go into operation next year at the soonest.

Minister: Construction of over 200km of new roads to start in 2016

Work will start on 223 kilometres of new roads in the Czech Republic next year, the minister of transport, Dan Ťok, said at a meeting of construction industry leaders on Tuesday. Mr. Ťok said his officials would work simultaneously on getting planning permission for different sections of road ahead of the introduction of a new Construction Act that should make such processes easier. He blamed the slow pace of building projects in the Czech Republic on excessive red tape and said new legislation was overdue.

Number of pond turtles in Czech Republic close to zero, says wildlife group

The number of European pond turtles in the Czech Republic is close to zero. According to the wildlife group Herpeta, which is trying to boost turtle numbers, there were millions in the wild on Czech territory in the Middle Ages but today there are only a few hundred left. Most in existence now were brought from other countries, such as Romania, and the largest population is in south Moravia.