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Czech MEP denies involvement in financial fraud

Czech Communist Party MEP Miloslav Ransdorf, who was arrested in a Swiss bank on Friday on suspicion of financial fraud, has issued a statement denying any wrongdoing. In a statement prepared with his lawyer, Mr. Ransdorf says he was acting on behalf of a significant client with whom the bank had not been in communication for ten years. As regards the fake papers on the grounds of which bank employees alerted the police, Mr. Ransdorf said he had received them shortly before making the visit to the Zurich bank. He denies that he and the three Slovak nationals who were arrested with him visited the financial institution with the aim of withdrawing or transferring 350 million euros, as news sources reported. According to Slovak Interior Minister Robert Kalinak the Swiss authorities are investigating the matter as attempted financial fraud.

Chief of the General Staff visits Czech soldiers in Mali

Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces Lieutenant General Josef Becvar on Saturday paid a pre-Christmas visit to Czech soldiers stationed in Mali. The general brought them small gifts and thanked them for their good work, wishing them a safe return home. The Czech Republic currently has 38 soldiers in Mali, but the government is currently negotiating an increase in the Czech presence in order to make up for the planned withdrawal of French soldiers who would be redeployed to boost the fight against the Islamic State.

Czechs ready to back tough anti-terrorist laws

The vast majority of Czechs would support tighter laws in the fight against terrorism, according to the outcome of a poll conducted by the agency TNS Aisa for Czech Television. Eighty- five percent of respondents said they would back the approval of a law allowing the authorities to detain terrorist suspects without trail, as well as refusing to let them in or out of the country. The questionnaire was inspired by tough anti-terrorist measures presented to the Slovak Parliament by the government of Prime Minister Robert Fico. Speaking for Czech Television Czech Justice Minister Robert Pelikan said that the Czech public failed to realize that the legislation in place was perfectly sufficient in the fight against terrorism. He said that in backing excessively tough measures people failed to realize that anyone could be mistakenly suspected of terrorism.

Social Affairs Ministry wants stricter norms for homes with social services

The Social Affairs Ministry wants to introduce stricter criteria for the register of homes with social services for the aged, Czech Television reported. The move comes in the wake of criticism from Ombudswoman Anna Šabatová who criticized conditions in some of these institutions. Following inspections of these homes around the country, the Ombudswoman said there were huge differences between the quality of services provided. Excessive use of tranquilizers, physical restraint, poor quality food, and lack of qualified medical care were among the most common failings cited.

Czechs give positive assessment of Building Bridges project in prisons

The Czech Republic is taking part in Building Bridges, a European Restorative Justice project focusing on building bridges between offenders and victims of crimes. The pilot project undertaken in two Czech prisons between August and November is reported to have brought positive results both on the side of victims and offenders and there is interest in continued participation. In the project victims are invited to meet with offenders, to ask questions and share how the crime was committed and how it affected their lives. Furthermore, it enables offenders to become more aware of the consequences of their crime and its impacts on the lives of others. Similar pilot projects have been taking place in Germany, Italy, Hungary and Great Britain.

Man who murdered librarian was mentally deranged

The man who stabbed to death a 28-year-old librarian in the west Bohemian town of Horní Bříza in May of this year has been placed in a mental hospital after a court psychiatrist concluded that he was mentally deranged and could not be held responsible for his actions, the internet news site novinky.cz reported on Saturday. According to the site the state attorney is planning to close the case next week. The tragedy triggered a wave of criticism after it emerged that the attacker had been admitted to a mental institution in January, allegedly suffering from delusions and threatening to kill someone, only to be released a month later.

Boží Dar post office snowed under with Christmas mail

The tiny post office in the West Bohemian mountain town of Boží Dar – meaning God’s gift –is snowed under with mail from around the country and abroad, Czech Television reported. The post office annually stamps hundreds of thousands of Christmas greetings with a special Christmas stamp, making these letters a popular collector’s item for the sender and recipient. It is also the post office to which Czech children send letters to Baby Jesus or Ježísek telling him what they’d most like to get for Christmas. In the course of December the post with its four employees gets on average 15 kilograms of mail a day. Last Christmas it processed 358 kilograms of mail, with some letters from Germany, Japan, New Zealand and Australia.