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Blanka tunnel to open in mid-September

The trial run of Prague’s Blanka tunnel could be launched on September 15, according to the spokesman for ČKD Praha DIZ, company which supplied the cables destroyed during flooding last year. The date has been agreed by representatives of Prague City Hall and the construction company. The 37-billion crown tunnel was due to open after numerous delays in April. However, the opening had to be postponed again due to the faulty cables. It was originally estimated that their replacement might take several months and cost an additional one billion crowns, but now it seems their replacement will be less extensive.

Ex-politician Rath describes corruption conviction of co-accused as “show trial”

Ex-politician David Rath has described the conviction of a married couple over corruption of which he is also accused as a “political show trial”. Kateřina Kottová and Petr Kott on Tuesday received jail terms of 7.5 years and were stripped of around CZK 30 million, while seven others were also convicted over the manipulation of a contract to renovate a chateau and hospital procurement. Mr. Rath, who is facing similar charges in a separate trial, said he hoped he would be tried by judges who did not ignore evidence and court experts. If found guilty, the former health minister and regional governor could spend up to 12 years behind bars.

Press: Does expected departure of key Zeman associates spell intention not to run again?

Two of President Miloš Zeman’s closest associates at his Prague Castle office are in line for ambassadorial posts, Hospodářské noviny reported on Wednesday. Mr. Zeman’s head of protocol, Jindřich Forejt, looks set to receive a long-mooted appointment as Czech ambassador to the Vatican, the newspaper said. However, the move is not expected to occur until late 2017, shortly before the president’s term ends. His foreign policy advisor, Hynek Kmoníček, is expected to become the country’s ambassador to Washington in around a year’s time. Hospodářské noviny said the planned departure of two key members of Mr. Zeman’s staff suggested he may not seek a second term.

Constitutional Court to review law on registered partnership

The Constitutional Court will review a law banning gays and lesbians living in a registered partnership from adopting their partner’s child. A city court in Prague in March filed a proposal for abolishing the provision, which is included in the law on registered partnerships. According to the current legislation, gays and lesbians can adopt children only if they don’t live in a registered partnership. The law has been repeatedly criticised by a number of human rights organisations and initiatives. The Minister for Human Rights and Minorities Jiří Dienstbier has also been pushing for the abolition of the provision, calling it absurd and unconstitutional.

Supreme State Attorney appeals ruling clearing publishers of Hitler speeches

The Supreme State Attorney Pavel Zeman has appealed the ruling of a Brno court that cleared the publishers of Adolf Hitler’s speeches free of charges of propagating Nazism. The regional court in Brno in January upheld an earlier verdict that found no evidence that the collection of Hitler’s speeches promoted the Nazi ideology. The book, which was released in 2012, consists of 18 addresses delivered by the Nazi dictator between 1939 and 1942. An editor and two co-owners of a Brno-based publishing house, Guidemedia, faced up to ten years in jail on charges of propagating Nazism. The case will now be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

Lower house passes legislation preventing closure of forest kindergartens

The lower house on Wednesday passed an amendment to the law that will prevent the closure of outdoor nurseries known as forest kindergartens. According to the new legislation, the alternative nurseries can be granted an exemption from the strict hygiene norms that apply to traditional preschool facilities. The so-called Children Groups Act was passed through the lower house in November to provide a legal framework for child-care alternatives, which appeared as a result of a lack of places in regular kindergartens.

Number of Czechs working abroad on the rise

The number of Czechs working abroad has increased over the last year, according to data released by the European Employment Services network (EURES). Some 110,400 Czechs worked abroad in 2014, i.e. 55,000 more than in 2006. Among the most popular destinations for Czechs are Great Britain, Germany, Austria and Scandinavia. Czechs mostly work in healthcare, gastronomy, services and technical fields. According to Miroslav Chytil of EURES, foreign employers are currently seeking mainly qualified craftsmen, such as electricians, bakers and carpenters.

Hundred-year-old beer found during reconstruction of historic brewery

Three bottles with beer believed to be over a hundred years old were found during a reconstruction of a brewery in the village of Záhlinice in the south Moravian region of Kroměříž. The brewery was closed down in 1926 but experts say the bottles probably date back to between 1900 and 1910, judging by the use of a specific type of stopper. The Research Institute of Brewing and Malting will now open the bottles and analyse their content, hoping to make some new discoveries about the ingredients.

Twelve people died in car accidents over Easter

Twelve people died in car accidents over the Easter weekend, twice as many as in 2014. It is the highest number of casualties since 2011, when thirteen people were killed on the roads. According to the police, most of the accidents were caused by speeding or drink driving and most of the victims were young drivers around the age of twenty. Some 3,000 policemen were out in force over Easter since it traditionally involves a high number of casualties.

Tennis: Fed Cup nominations announced for semi-finals against France

Czech Fed Cup team captain Petr Pála on Wednesday announced the nominations for the upcoming semi-final rubber against France. The Czech team includes the country’s number one player Petra Kvitová, along with Karolína Plíšková, Lucie Šafářová, Barbora Strýcová and Tereza Smitková. The average ranking of the players is thirteen, making it the strongest Fed Cup team in the Czech Republic’s history. The semi-finals are scheduled for April 19 and 20 in Ostrava’s CEZ Arena.