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Members of Czech delegation have audience with Pope

Members of a Czech delegation – including representatives of the Hussite and Evangelical churches – were given an audience with Pope Francis in the Vatican on Monday on occasion of the upcoming 600th anniversary of the burning at the stake of Czech priest and religious reformer Jan Hus. The pontiff expressed regret over the death of Hus, echoing words of the late Pope John Paul II. In 1999, the Polish pontiff expressed similar regret and called Hus, who was burned as a heretic in 1415, a “memorable figure” for his “moral courage”. Those to take part in the meeting with the Pope on Monday included Cardinal Miloslav Vlk, the Bishop of Plzeň Frantíšek Radkovský, representatives of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church and the Evangelical Church of Czech Brethren, as well as historian Jaroslav Šebek and Senate deputy chairwoman Miluše Horská.

Foreign Minister: Czechs not in direct danger from MERS

The country’s foreign minister, Lubomír Zaorálek, has said that Czechs are not in direct danger from MERS or Middle East Respiratory Syndrome after an outbreak in South Korea. Sixteen people there have succumbed to the deadly disease; another 150 have been infected. The outbreak in South Korea is the largest ever outside the Middle East, sources say. The Czech foreign minister met with Health Minister Svatopluk Němeček to assess the situation but the Czech Republic is introducing no extra measures at this time. Minister Zaorálek did say Czechs should consider whether or not to travel to the region and, if they do, should monitor their health upon return. There are direct flights between Seoul and Prague which the minister does not consider high risk as, in his view, South Korea is dealing with the outbreak head on, the Czech News Agency reported.

Workers begin replacing damaged cables in Blanka tunnel

Employees of ČKD Praha and DIZ on Monday began replacing water-damaged cables in Prague’s Blanka tunnel. The news was confirmed by deputy mayor Petr Dolínek. According to the Czech News Agency, some 300 pieces of cable stretching a total of around 56 kilometres will have to be replaced, compared to 80 pieces and 15 kilometres estimated earlier. The Blanka tunnel complex is scheduled to open in mid-September of this year after numerous setbacks and delays. The project is estimated to have cost around 37 billion crowns to date.

Press: Industry minister for establishment of state firm to build nuclear reactors

The minister of industry and trade, Jan Mládek, wants to set up a government-run company to build nuclear power stations in the Czech Republic, Hospodářské noviny reported on Monday. However, the minister of finance, Andrej Babiš of ANO, wants semi-state power giant CEZ to bear responsibility for the huge investments in the Temelín nuclear power plant and elsewhere, the newspaper said; Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, Mr. Mládek’s Social Democrats party colleague, is inclined towards Mr. Babiš’s position. CEZ last year cancelled tender processes for the construction of reactors at Temelín after the government refused to guarantee stable electricity purchase prices.

TV Prima: Police allowed beach-goers, including families with small children, to bathe not far from corpse in the water

Members of the police force in Zlín are facing possible disciplinary measures for allowing bathers on Saturday, including families with small children, to swim for hours just metres from a man's corpse in the water. The incident took place at the Štěrkoviště reservoir in Otrokovice. According to sources, the coroner did not arrive for hours and the police apparently found it sufficient to partially cover the floating body with a tarp, rather than to ask swimmers to leave. News website iDnes reported the story, as did TV Prima, complete with video of the covered corpse with an outstretched hand. One family told the news site they thought the police were only conducting an exercise with a “dummy”. The deceased is believed to be a 31-year-old Slovak homeless man who went missing on Thursday evening after he went swimming with others. According to reports, other homeless people he was with took his things after he failed to reappear.

Constitutional Court rejects Horváthová-Jakubisková complaint

The Constitutional Court has rejected a complaint put forward by film producer and actress Deana Horváthová-Jakubisková, against an earlier ruling which found her guilty of negligence behind the wheel which caused the death of a pedestrian in his 60s. Mrs Horváthová-Jakubisková received a suspended sentence from Prague’s Municipal Court of 2.5 years in prison with a four-year probation period as well as a four year driving ban for her role in the fatal accident at a zebra crossing. In the incident, another motorist gave right of way, but she struck the man as he was crossing.

Long-term defence strategy approved by government

The government approved a long-term defence strategy for the Czech Republic on Monday. It sets out the direction of the Czech Army between now and the year 2030. The plan takes into account the possibility that EU and NATO allies will face serious long-term threats in the coming decades. Its authors expect an increasingly diversified distribution of political power and economic potential in the world to lead to instability resulting in the danger of direct military threats.

Hockey: Chicago have chance to clinch Stanley Cup

The Chicago Blackhawks are a win away from winning this year’s Stanley Cup. On Monday, the club faces the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6 of their best-of-seven series. Both teams have Czech players on the roster: Chicago has Michal Rozsival who played only part of the playoffs before suffering a broken ankle. A win by the Blackhawks would be their third victory in the playoffs since 2010. Tampa Bay, should they come back and win the series from 3-2 down, have two Czech players: forward Ondrej Palát and defenceman Andrej Šustr.

Football: Baroš to leave Ostrava

Football striker Milan Baroš, the biggest star at Ostrava Baník, is set to leave the club news website iDnes reports, saying the player was not offered an extension on his contract. The player told the daily nobody at the club had discussed further cooperation, making clear he would be looking to play elsewhere, if at all. According to the news site, there has been long-term interest in the player in Asia but Baroš – who was top-scorer at Euro 2004 – has said he wants to remain in Central Europe, closer to home.

Kadeřábek hoping move to Hoffenheim sealed before U21 Euros

The Czech footballer Pavel Kadeřábek says he hopes to secure a move from Sparta Prague to German club Hoffenheim by the start of the European Under-21 Championship, which gets underway in the Czech Republic on Wednesday. The right-back, who was part of the Czech senior squad that travelled to Iceland at the end of last week, said talks were ongoing between the two clubs over the transfer. Kadeřábek, who is 23, was last month named player of the season in the Czech league.