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27-10-2015

Czech authorities to deport Afghan family EU court says must be transferred

The European Court of Human Rights has ordered the Czech authorities to relocate an Afghan family with children being held at the country’s Bělá-Jezová detention facility. In a preliminary ruling the Strasbourg court upheld a petition on the matter from the Czech NGO the Organisation for Aid to Refugees. The Czech Ministry of the Interior said it would deport the family, who have been in Bělá-Jezová since the start of September, because there were no longer grounds to detain them, not because of the court’s decision. The court said the family should be transferred to another facility that does not violate Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights.

Greens call on Zeman to honour volunteers who work with refugees

The Green Party have called on the Czech president, Miloš Zeman, to honour volunteers who help refugees at a ceremony on Wednesday celebrating the foundation of Czechoslovakia. In an open letter, the Greens’ leader Jana Drápalová and party senator Václav Láska said they were not requesting state honours for volunteers, merely that the head of state thank them for their work. The president’s spokesman rejected the call. Mr. Zeman has been criticised for his comments on migrants and Muslims, with the UN’s high commissioner for human rights last week saying his repeated Islamophobic comments had contributed to xenophobic public discourse.

Opposition MPs criticise Babiš’s absence from gambling tax debate

Opposition deputies on Tuesday criticised Finance Minister Andrej Babiš for being absent from an extraordinary lower house session debating his proposal to increase taxation on gambling. Mr. Babiš was one of many MPs absent from the Chamber of Deputies on the eve of the state holiday marking the anniversary of the foundation of Czechoslovakia. In a telephone interview, the ANO chief told Czech Television that there would have been no need for Tuesday’s debate if TOP 09’s Miroslav Kalousek had not previously delayed a vote on the matter at hand by speaking at such length in the lower house.

Regulator gives green light to sale of company owning 43,000 flats

The Czech anti-trust authority has given the green light to the sale of the company RPG Byty, which owns over 43,000 apartments in the Moravian Silesian Region. RPG Byty has been bought by a Luxembourg-based company with a Czech-sounding name, Fondy Bydleni 2 S.á r.l. Little is known about the firm and the regulator said it could not discuss it at present because of trade secrecy. RPG Byty acquired the flats from its parent company co-owned by tycoon Zdeněk Bakala, RPG Industries, which bought them from Mr. Bakala’s mining company OKD in 2004. The wealthy entrepreneur has been criticised for reneging on an agreement to sell the flats to occupants.

Prague coalition to discuss future Friday after ousting of four councillors

The coalition that governs Prague is set to meet on Friday for talks following the ousting of four of its 11 councillors last week. Representatives of ANO, the Social Democrats and the Four Coalition said they would not discuss their plans with the media prior to the meeting. In a late night session on Thursday night, Matěj Stropnický of the Four Coalition, Michal Hašeka of ANO and Hana Nováková and Irena Ropková of the Social Democrats were voted off the council on grounds of poor performance. Councillor Karel Březina of the Social Democrats said he hoped the situation would be resolved by the middle of next week. He refused to say whether his party were holding talks on forming a new coalition with other groupings.

Sweeping changes to Prague transport system planned for next summer

Sweeping changes will be made to Prague’s public transport system from July 1 next year under plans approved by city councilors on Tuesday. The nearby town of Kladno will be incorporated into the capital’s transport network, while some bus and tram routes will be altered. Night links will also be reorganised under the project hatched by the city’s transport planning organisation Ropid. It is set to discuss the changes with the Prague transport authority and other agencies in the near future.

Shows cancelled after singer Gott hospitalised

Veteran singer Karel Gott has cancelled concert scheduled for the near future after being taken to hospital. An announcement about the cancellations was posted on his Facebook page without further details. The statement asked that his privacy be respected. Doctors told the singer, who is 76, to reduce his public activities after he suffered from heart arrhythmia in the summer.

Kvitová and Šafárová preparing to face one another at WTA Finals

The Czech tennis players Petra Kvitová and Lucie Šafárová are preparing to face each other on Wednesday at the WTA Finals in Singapore in a match that could lead to one of them exiting the prestigious season-ending competition. Both Czechs lost 0:2 on sets in their opening matches on Monday and are now fighting to make it out of their four-player group into the semi-finals of the tournament, which features the top eight players of the 2015 season.

Police return to Nymburk area crime scene

Police investigators returned to a barn in the Nymburk area with excavators where two years ago two bodies were discovered encased in cement. Some 20 personnel searched the site over two days, sources report. The spokesman for the police unit for investigating organized crime, confirmed the police were following up on information obtained over the course of their investigation; potential evidence was removed in sealed bags. Two years ago, the remains of a Czech-Swiss businessman and a Czech woman were found under the floorboards of the building. The latter was allegedly a front in a number of firms. In the case, five people were charged by the police and are currently standing trial.

27-10-2015