Four of the five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon in July of last year are demanding compensation from the state to the tune of 40 million crowns, Czech Radio’s news station Radiožurnál reported on Thursday. The Czechs, who were released in February of this year, claim that the secret services could have prevented their abduction. Interior Minister Milan Chovanec has rejected the claim saying the government had done everything in its power to secure their release and suggesting they should sue the organizer of their trip to Lebanon instead.
Security checks at Prague Castle will remain in place despite protests from tourist agencies, the president’s spokesman Jiri Ovčáček told Czech Television. He said negotiations were underway for new technology which would speed up the security checks to some extent. As of this week all visitors to the Prague Castle compound are asked to undergo security checks by police officers stationed at the gates, which has resulted in long queues forming. Tourist agencies organizing trips to Prague Castle have complained that the delays are causing complications to their sightseeing schedules. Mr. Ovčáček countered that security measures were in place around Europe and visitors should be used to them.
A Parliamentary committee set up to investigate a controversial reorganization of the police force is hearing evidence from the former head of the Ostrava squad for fighting organized crime Jiří Komárek. Mr. Komárek was one of six high ranking police officers who left the force in protest against the overhaul. He openly accused police president Tomáš Tuhý of leaking information from ongoing investigations and backed the former head of the national squad for fighting organized crime Robert Šlachta’s claim that high placed members of the force had links to the criminal underworld. The committee has already heard evidence from Robert Šlachta and from the high state prosecutor Ivo Ištvan.
The Czech Defence Ministry is looking at offers to supply the Czech military with mobile radars, to replace outdated Soviet-made technology. According to ministry sources offers have been made by French, Israeli and Swedish companies. According to information released earlier, the Defence Ministry is expecting to pay around 3.6 billion crowns for eight mobile radars. The offers are being assessed by a team of 33 experts and a decision is expected by the end of the year.
The Defence Ministry has so far recognized 1,350 people who actively fought against the communist regime and are entitled to a special financial contribution from the state as members of the so-called Third Resistance. The law on the Third Resistance, which stipulates the criteria which need to be met for the state to recognize active opposition to the former regime, came into force at the end of 2011. Those who are recognized as having been part of the active opposition are entitled to one-off payments and top-ups to their pensions. So far the Defence Ministry has registered over 4,400 applications and processed over 3,500.
Vitkovice Power Engineering has filed for “reorganization“ bankruptcy. The company owes hundreds of millions of crowns to over 700 creditors. It currently employs over 1,000 people. The regional court in Ostrava which was scheduled to deal with a proposal for bankruptcy by one of the firm’s biggest creditors Westag Invest on Friday has cancelled the hearing.
The Prague Municipal Court has rejected an appeal by the guerrilla art group Ztohoven who claimed that the judge presiding over their case was biased since she, like all other judges, was appointed by the state. Three members of the group last year climbed onto the roof of Prague Castle and replaced the presidential standard with a pair of red underpants in protest against President Zeman’s policies. They later admitted to having cut up the standard into more than a thousand pieces and handed them out to people at random in protest against what they call the “centralization of power”. They are charged with disorderly conduct, theft and damage to property. The court hearings will continue next week.
Three Czechs have advanced to the finals of the men’s javelin throw in Rio. The best of them, Petr Frydrych, qualified with a throw of 83.60 metres, the fifth best mark of the day. His colleagues Jakub Vadlejch and Vítězslav Veselý also fulfilled the qualifying standard.
In the women’s event, two-time defending champion Barbora Špotáková qualified with 64.65 metres, the second-best mark of the day.
Czech shot-putter Tomáš Stanek will not advance to the finals of the Olympic Games in Rio after a disappointing performance in the qualifying round on Thursday in which he threw 19.76 metres and placed 20th. The result was 64 centimetres short of target. Stanek’s personal best is 21.30 metres. The best throw was by US Ryan Crouser at 21.59 metres.
Visitors to the Grand Prix Motorcycle Race in Brno this weekend have been warned to expect strict security measures. In view of the present security situation visitors will be asked to undergo security checks at the gates. The police will be out in force for the event and will employ dogs specially trained to detect explosives. There will also be numerous traffic restrictions relating to the event and drivers heading for Brno along the D1 highway from Prague should expect delays on the way due to the ongoing reconstruction of sections of the highway.