A Czech facing charges of trying to join a terrorist group, namely Islamic State, testified on Wednesday that he did not want to kill anyone in Syria. Jan Silovský said in court that he wanted to join IS and be sent to fight in Syria so that he could be quickly killed by the Syrian Army. Silovský, from the West Bohemia Plzeň region, said he had not really thought through what he was doing. He said he converted to Islam three or four years ago. He is the first Czech to face charges of trying to join a terrorist group and could a life sentence if found guilty. The 21-year-old was stopped in Turkey with a ticket for an onward flight to Syria in January 2016.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a top security official to Prague to keep on eye on his uncle, the current ambassador to Prague Kim Pyong-il, the South Korean newspaper Choson Ilbo has reported. It added that the Koran leader feared that his uncle might be a focus for opposition to him. Kim Pyong-il has occupied a series of diplomatic posts in Europe since 1979 in a move which has been interpreted as keeping out of politics in his homeland. He was moved to Prague in 2015 from a long term posting in Warsaw in an attempt to weaken him, the paper added. Some opposition groups hoped Kim Pyong-il might serve as a focus a challenge to the current regime, the paper added.
Hotels, pensions, and camps across the Czech Republic enjoyed a bumper year in 2016, according to figures released on Wednesday by the Czech Statistical Office. The total number of guests came to 18.3 million, 6.9 percent up on the figure for 2015. The total of overnight stays was 5.4 percent higher year on year. The biggest increase in guests occurred in the Karlovy Vary region with a 13.2 percent rise. The Ústí region had the biggest rise in overnight stays at 10.6 percent.
Unemployment in the Czech Republic rose in January to 5.3 percent from December’s 5.2 percent. Another around 8,000 were seeking work bringing the total to around 390,000. The number of vacancies stood at almost 136,000. The jobless total usually rises in January.
Czech Secretary of State for European Affairs, Tomáš Prouza, said Wednesday that the Czech Republic has a relatively good chance of being chosen as the new location for the European Banking Authority (EBA). Prague has been put forward as a candidate to host the authority and its around 200 personnel when it is forced to quit London following Brexit. A final decision on the site is expected within a year with most other EU countries also in the fray. The EBA is an independent body focussed on ensuring proper and adequate bank supervision.
The best-paid Czech politician is not the prime minister or the president but Jiří Čunek, according to the newspaper Mladá fronta Dnes. Mr. Čunek is a senator for the Christian Democrats as well as being the governor of the Zlín Region and mayor of the town of Vsetín. In total he receives almost CZK 290,000 a month. He had said before regional elections that he would quit the mayor’s post if elected but now says he is under pressure to stay. Mr. Čunek, a former leader of the Christian Democrats, first came to national attention for his treatment of Romanies, with critics said was discriminatory. He later became involved in a number of scandals and was forced to step down as regional development minister.
In ice hockey, Sparta Prague lost in their Champions League final against Sweden’s Frolunda on Tuesday night in Gothenburg. Sparta were twice ahead against the Swedish club which was playing on home ice. The match went into extra time at 3:3 with Niklas Lasu getting the winner 87 seconds into extra time. Frolunda were already the reigning champions going into the final. Sparta Prague have now appeared in three finals, the previous ones being in 2008 and 2000, but have been losers on all occasions.
The weather on Thursday will be cloudy with sunny intervals expected especially in the centre and east of the country. Daytime temperatures will range between minus 2 and 1 degree Celsius.