Europeans fighting with jihadist groups in Syria numbers could exceed 6,000 the EU Commissioner for Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship Věra Jourová has said in an interview for the latest edition of French daily Le Figaro, published Monday. The EU commissioner stressed that official EU estimates were of 5,000 – 6,000, but that the true number was likely higher because of the difficulty of tracking foreign fighters abroad. Ms Jourová stressed that the European Union was looking to promote prevention to try and curtail the number of those attracted by fighting in Syria, and to look into reasons why people joined jihadist groups such as Islamic State. For that purpose it has allocated 2.5 million euros.
Another focus for the EU is to improve the exchange of information between the police forces and court systems of member states with more intelligence sharing required. The extremist group Islamic State has attracted thousands of foreign fighters from the EU since it declared a “caliphate” in parts of Syria and Iraq.
Members of the centre-right TOP 09 Party at Prague City Hall have filed criminal charges against Mayor Adriana Krnáčová, who they accuse of acting illegally by selecting a lawyer in a property dispute on the recommendation of the city’s opponents in the case. According to TOP 09 councillors, the mayor may have broken the law in four instances. Fellow party member Petr Prchal filed charges earlier. TOP 09, along with the opposition Civic Democrats, have initiated an attempt to have the mayor removed from office on Tuesday but lack enough votes.
The Regional Office in Zlín has registered 118 appeals for compensation in connection with uncontrolled explosions last year in the now defunct munitions depot in Vrbětice. One hundred claims were from individuals and 18 from corporate or legal bodies. The bureau did not disclose precise details of any of the cases, although a local mayor elaborated on some of the compensation claims, saying a number were related to routes closed off affecting farming or forestry operations. The former munitions site suffered a massive explosion last October which killed two people; for weeks afterwards the site remained dangerous and was closed off and guarded by the military. A full clean-up and removal of surviving munitions began in January.
The Czech Army is set to increase its troop numbers significantly in the next 10 years, Mladá fronta Dnes reported on Monday. Under a plan setting out priorities for the next decade quoted by the newspaper, troop numbers will jump from the present 16,600 to at least 24,000. In addition to those professional soldiers there should be around 5,000 reservists, compared to the current figure of just over 1,000. The minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, said the plan could be approved as early as June.
The ex-wife of former prime minister Petr Nečas testified in the trial of Jana Nagyová on Monday saying she knew nothing of surveillance allegedly ordered by her husband’s then chief-of-staff Jana Nagyová. She also said she was unaware of any danger her family might have been in. The former chief-of-staff – who had an affair with Mr Nečas before marrying him after his divorce – is accused of abuse of office, allegedly ordering spying on his wife Radka Nečasová to try and dig up compromising material. The defendant’s lawyer maintains that the former chief-of-staff was worried that the prime minister’s first wife had fallen in with members of a cult, which Radka Nečasová told the court she had no recollection of.
The police have recommended that a case against a single suspect, whose identity has not been confirmed, go to trial for the alleged promotion of a movement leading to the suppression of rights and freedoms of others, public broadcaster Czech TV reported on Monday citing a member of the country’s anti-organised crime unit. The person in question, earlier reports suggest, is a former head of the Prague Muslim community. The man is suspected of having had a role in the publication of a radical book by controversial Islamic preacher Bilal Philips. The daily Právo reported earlier this year that the police had expert evidence the publication contained hate speech. It has been banned in some countries.
The deputy head of TOP 09 Miroslav Kalousek was involved in a traffic accident on Monday on the country’s D1 highway. The tabloid Blesk reported that the trunk of his service vehicle was crumpled after the car was struck from behind by a delivery van. Tests for alcohol proved negative. The centre-right TOP 09 – in the opposition – cancelled a press conference in Brno scheduled for Monday afternoon, where Mr Kalousek, party leader Karel Schwarzenberg and others were due to address the current political situation as well as to outline plans supporting small businesses and entrepreneurs.
A railway line connecting the eastern city of Ostrava and the international Leoš Janáček Airport in Mošnov opened on Monday, with the first train running at 4:30 AM. The international airport is the first in the country to have a regular rail connection. The 2.9 kilometre route, including a covered terminal, cost around 553 million crowns, most of which came from EU funds. The railway corridor should improve travel, not least during the upcoming Ice Hockey World Championships.
The veteran Czech ice hockey star Jaromír Jágr has signed a one-year contract extension with the Florida Panthers. Jágr, who is 43, joined the club from New Jersey Devils in February. In 21 seasons in the NHL, the Kladno-born forward is fourth in the league’s history in terms of points, fifth in goals and sixth in assists.
Czech forward Tomas Plekanec ended the regular season with 60 points – 26 goals and 34 assists – for the Montreal Canadiens, tying him with defenceman P.K. Subban. Plekanec also was the team’s top goal-scorer after Max Pacioretty, who notched up 38. In the last game of the regular season, the Montreal Canadiens defeated Toronto in overtime by a score of 4:3. The win saw the Habs clinch the Atlantic Division title. The team faces Ottawa in their opening game of the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs on Wednesday.
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