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June trade surplus climbs to 17.9 billion crowns

The Czech trade surplus in June totaled 17.8 billion crowns, a slight improvement on the same month in 2014, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Thursday. The surplus strengthened in cars and transport machinery with a weaker impact in the traditional deficit from oil and other imported fuels thanks to lower world prices. The trade surplus in the first six months of the year now stands at almost 107 billion crowns. Exports and imports have been rising at nearly the same level this year of around 7.5 percent.

Industrial output surges 8.1 percent in June

In related economic news, the statistics office announced that industrial output rose in June by 8.1 percent compared with the same month in 2014. Taking account of the extra working day this year, the increase falls to 5.5 percent when this is factored in. The value of new orders was up 10.3 percent year-on-year with higher demand coming from at home than abroad. Industrial production has climbed by 4.8 percent in the second quarter of the year compared with the 2014 performance.

German police detain almost 60 immigrants near Czech border

Police in the German region of Saxony announced they had detained almost 60 illegal immigrants near the border town of Pirna. The immigrants appeared to have been brought into Germany from the Czech Republic in two lorries with Polish drivers. The 59 illegal immigrants, who included children, were hidden in the cargo compartment and were found in a poor state. Most of them came from Syria, Afghanistan, Eritrea, and Pakistan.

Brno court rejects 100 million crown compensation claims

A Brno court on Thursday turned down compensation claims of 50 million crowns each from the son and mother of a Vietnamese man who was brutally beaten by police and later died of his injuries. The court ruled that the 1.0 million crowns already received by each of them was adequate. Part of the claims for higher compensation were based on the Asian tradition that the dead man would have been expected to provide for his parents in old age. The 29 year old Vietnamese man was detained by police during a raid in January 2009 in which he was apparently suspected of being a drug dealer. He died in custody a few days later from injuries received. Three police officers were later found guilty and sentenced.

Massive Ostrava property portfolio heads into British hands

A British-based real estate company has bought out one of the Czech Republic’s biggest private owners of flats and property. Round Hill Capital announced the buyout of RPG Byty, which owns around 43,000 flats in and around Ostrava, on Thursday. The price paid was not given. The Czech company is partly owned by billionaire Zdeněk Bakala. The portfolio of flats around Ostrava was part of the package when the mining company OKD was controversially privatized and then re-sold. Round Hill, which has real estate assets in Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands, says it will not alter conditions for its Czech tenants.

Czech soldiers start in major NATO exercise

Around 1,400 Czech soldiers have started to take part in what has been dubbed the most important NATO exercise of the year. The Czech contingent, together with around 430 pieces of equipment including light armoured personnel carriers, are taking part in the Allied Spirit II exercises which will continue in Germany until the end of the month. As well as Czech forces, those from Germany, Hungary, the United States, Canada, Britain, and non-NATO partners Serbia and Georgia are taking part. The exercises are being held on training grounds between Regensburg and Nuremberg.

State reserve intervenes to help village where wells have run dry

The state has already been called to intervene in reaction to the prolonged drought. The state agency for emergency reserves has sent a water cistern with a capacity of 2,400 litres to the village of Holín in the Chrudim district of Eastern Bohemia after the wells ran dry. The village is not connected to the mains water supply. The cistern is set to be in place until October as wells are not expected to be usable immediately even if there is significant rainfall.

Charges pending against gang preparing break in, kidnapping against finance minister:report

Police are expected in the coming days to press charges against a gang which was preparing to break into a number of Prague villas, including those owned by minister of finance and ANO party leader, Andrej Babiš, the news weekly Respekt reported Thursday. The gang was considering kidnapping Babiš’ children as well. The magazine said police stumbled on the plot which was led by a gang of Albanians. They arrested nine gang members at the turn of the year. A Prague police investigator who was linked to the gang and tasked with giving them early warning if the law was on their trail is also under arrest, the magazine said.

Czech Republic faces another severe heatwave

The Czech Republic is facing another severe heatwave in the coming days, which is expected to hit the country on Thursday afternoon. Temperatures over the weekend could reach up to 39 degrees Celsius. According to the Czech Hydro-Meteorological Institute, the current drought is likely to continue at least for the next two weeks. The forecasters are also warning of heightened risk of fires. If the predictions come true, this summer will be the warmest and driest since measurements have been kept.

Sparta Prague and Viktoria Plzeň bow out of Champions League after visitors stage comebacks

On a bleak night for Czech football both Sparta Prague and Viktoria Plzeň bowed out of the Champions League during the third qualifying round. After going two goals up in the first 16 minutes, Sparta then conceded three goals and were down to 10-men at the end of the game against CSKA Moscow. They went down on aggregate 4:5 to the Russian champions. Viktoria Plzeň had high hopes of proceeding after a first leg 2:1 away win against Maccabi Tel Aviv. The match remained goalless until the 76th minute when Eran Zahavi scored from the penalty spot and he followed up with a second seven minutes later from open play.