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Czech Republic defeated over refugee quotas

The Czech Republic has been defeated in a European Union vote on the allocation of set numbers of migrants to individual states. Europe's interior ministers pushed the quota system through in a qualified majority vote on Tuesday. The Czech minister of the interior, Milan Chovanec, described the vote as an empty and ineffective political gesture. The only other states to vote against the plan to spread 120,000 refugees around Europe were Slovakia, Hungary and Romania. The Czech Republic, which had long pushed for a voluntary system, will take in almost 3,000 refugees in the next two years.

Prague will fight quotas, says Sobotka following vote

The Czech prime minister, Bohuslav Sobotka, says Tuesday's vote to introduce quotas of asylum seekers in European Union states will not resolve the refugee crisis. Mr. Sobotka said that the decision had been a bad one and that the Czech Republic would do everything in its powers to prevent the system coming into effect. The leaders of the parties in the Czech coalition government are to discuss what action to take at a meeting on Wednesday.

Zeman: Soldiers should guard Czech borders rather than tackle refugee crisis abroad

President Miloš Zeman says Czech soldiers should guard the borders of their own country rather than trying to deal with the refugee crisis abroad. The head of state was reacting to a recent statement by the country’s minister of defence, Martin Stropnický, who said thousands of Czech soldiers could be deployed to provide assistance at refugee camps in states near Syria. Mr. Zeman said reservists could assist professional soldiers in guarding the borders of the Czech Republic.

Prague court says three can be extradited to US

A Prague court has ruled that three men wanted on terrorism charges in the USA can be extradited to that country. Ali Fayad, Faouzi Jaber and Khaled Marabi immediately filed an action against the ruling, which will now return to the Czech Supreme Court. The three were arrested in Prague in 2014 and charged with terrorism after trying to sell weapons and cocaine to US agents who passed themselves off as members of Colombia’s FARC.

Two more victims of explosion at arms factory discovered

Two more victims of an explosion that occurred at an arms factory in Central Bohemia on Monday have been discovered, a fire service spokesperson said on Tuesday. This brings the number of deaths at the Sellier and Bellot factory in Vlašim to three. The company, which produces powder used for making arms, has an almost 200-year tradition in the town.

Zeman calls for dismissal of security chief over Prague Castle giant boxers protest

President Miloš Zeman says the director of the presidential security unit, Petr Dongres, should be dismissed. He made the comments days after an incident in which the art group Ztohoven replaced the presidential flag over Prague Castle with a gigantic pair of red boxer shorts in protest at Mr. Zeman’s policies and behaviour. Speaking on a visit to Ostrava on Tuesday, Mr. Zeman said other personnel changes could also be expected. Mr. Dongres is due to discuss the weekend’s incident with Police President Tomáš Tuhý on Thursday. A number of people have been charged with disorderly conduct in connection with the protest.

Jaroslav Seifert Prize to go to Eugen Brikcius

The 2015 Jaroslav Seifert Prize is to be bestowed on the writer Eugen Brikcius. The jury chose Mr. Brikcius, who is 75, on the basis of his collection A tělo se stalo slovem (And the Body Became). The poet, prose author, playwright and journalist will receive the prize, and a cheque for CZK 100,000, at a ceremony at the Prague Mayor’s Residence in November. The prestigious literary award was first given to authors in exile during the communist era.

Two seriously injured in distillery explosion

Fourteen people were injured, two of them seriously, in an explosion at a sugar factory and distillery at Dobrovice in Central Bohemia on Tuesday morning, a spokesperson for the regional rescue services said. The local mayor said the explosion had occurred during maintenance work at the distillery. Firefighters quickly brought the situation under control and said there was no threat of further danger.

Deal over Czech plots at Hamburg port possible

The Czech Republic is prepared to exchange two sites it owns at Hamburg docks for a more advantageous property, Minister of Transport Dan Ťok announced after a visit to the German port city. Hamburg authorities have earmarked the two pieces of Czech land for use in their plans to stage the Olympic Games in 2024. The minister said an exchange might be to the advantage of the Czech Republic. One piece of land was allotted the country by the Treaty of Versailles and the terms for the allocation expires in a few years. The other piece of land was purchased in 1929.