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Foreign ministry says no Czechs believed to be on crashed Airbus flight

The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Tuesday that it had no information that any Czechs were on board an Airbus A320 which crashed in the French Alps, not far from the Italian border, on Tuesday morning. Checks were still being carried out, a spokesperson said. None of the passengers or crew survived the crash, according to official French sources. The Germanwings aircraft had 150 people on board, six of them being crew. It was flying from Barcelona to Dusseldorf with most of the passengers believed to be German. Weather conditions in the Alps were fine and the cause of the crash is as yet unknown.

President Zeman attacks ‘anti-American madness’ over military convoy

Czech President Miloš Zeman has weighed into the debate about the pending US military convoy that will cross the Czech Republic on its way back from the Baltic states. Zeman described those protesting the move as gripped by ‘anti-American madness.’ And the head of state refuted the term ‘occupiers’ for the convoy, pointing out that Czechs had faced occupation twice in the previous century and knew what it meant. Zeman made his comments during a visit to the northern Liberec region. He said most Czechs would not have noticed the convoy had it not been publicised. The US convoy is expected to cross into the Czech Republic on March 29 on its way back to its home base in Bavaria, Germany.

Business confidence eases in March

Business confidence in the Czech economy fell in March for the third month in a row according to figures released by the Czech Statistical Office. The overall composite index fell by 0.4 percentage points to 95.1 points. Some business sectors, such as industry, are still relatively confident about prospects but overall optimism in the trade and services sectors fell. Confidence was unchanged in the construction and consumer sectors. The index climbed steadily through most of 2014 but has been slipping slightly since the end of last year.

Tomio Okamura called on to repay Dawn party funds

Breakaway members of the Dawn political party have called on the party’s founder and chairman Tomio Okamura to return around 560,000 crowns in unauthorised party funds. A commission into the party’s finances led by lower house of parliament member Jiří Štětina said that the spending on advertising and publicity for elections has not been approved by the party’s governing committee but was decided by Okamura alone. Interest to the tune of 200,000 on a bank loan was also outstanding, he said. Štětina said the party coffers are almost bare although around 3.6 million is owed to suppliers and around 6.6 million crowns to the bank. The party split in February with most members of parliament saying they would create a new party and organisation with or without Okamura’s support. On Tuesday, the breakaway lawmakers expelled Okamura from their parliamentary group. Okamura has denied accusations about his use of party funds.

Prague-Beijing flights could begin in October

A new scheduled airline link between Prague and Beijing could be launched as early as October 1, prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka announced on Tuesday. The comments followed a meeting with China’s ambassador to the Czech Republic. The new route would be operated by Chinese company Hainan with Czech group Český Aeroholding providing support. The starting date for the service should be confirmed with the June visit to Prague of Chinese deputy prime minister Liu Yandong. Chine authorities had earlier been undecided whether Prague should be linked to Beijing or Shanghai.

Eleven injured in train crash

A passenger train derailed near the town of Obratan, south of Prague, after colliding with a truck at a railway crossing early on Tuesday, the ctk news agency reported. According to a police spokeswoman 11 people were injured, including the engine driver who was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries. The main road cutting across the rail track has been closed to traffic.

Hundreds evacuated from Opava housing estate over unexploded munition

Police in the city of Opava evacuated over one thousand people from one of the city’s biggest housing estates after workers accidently came upon exploded munition from the SWW. The find was in the middle of a densely populated housing estate with approximately 16,000 inhabitants. The unexploded areal bomb was successfully removed and people were able to return to their homes at close to midnight. Sixty firefighters and 70 police officers coordinated the evacuation effort.

Youth sentenced to three years for attack on Michal Hrůza

An Ostrava court on Tuesday sentenced a 19-year-old who savagely attacked popular rock singer musician Michal Hrůza to three years in prison. The co-defendant, his 18-year-old cousin, was given a one year conditional sentence suspended for two-and-a-half years. Hrůza was attacked last July in Ostrava when he tried to intervene to break up a fight. He was left with a brain haemorrhage and concussion. He has recently launched a tour of the Czech Republic.

Producer and businessman Peter Kovarčík dies

Film producer, businessman, and sport event organiser Peter Kovarčík has died in Prague at the age of 61, the agency ČTK announced on Tuesday. Most recently, Kovarčík was involved in the making of a feature film about the life of Czech film star Lída Baarová, who was romantically linked to Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. He was also involved in the staging of the musicals Galileo, Les Miserables, and Mamma Mia and the award of the annual Czech acting prizes. Kovarčík was said to be a close friend of former president Václav Klaus and was linked for many years to his Civic Democrat Party. He was also known for staging top tennis events in the 1990s.

Kometa Brno book place in play-off last four

In ice hockey, Kometa Brno booked the last place in the Czech play-off semi-finals after a 5:0 win against PSG Zlín on Monday night. The deciding seventh match was needed after Zlín tied the series 3:3. Hosts Kometa took an early lead with the first goal in the fourth minute of play and continued to pile the pressure on the visitors. The win means that Brno face Litvínov with the first game of the series scheduled for Thursday. The other semi-final duel pitches Sparta Prague against Třinec.