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Parliamentary sub-committee to debate alleged attempts to influence courts

A parliamentary sub-committee responsible for the judiciary is to meet over suspicions that President Miloš Zeman’s chancellor, Vratislav Mynář, had repeatedly tried to influence the courts in cases relating to the Office of the President or ones in which President Zeman had a vested interest.

According to the weekly Respekt, Mynář had repeatedly met with judges to inform them about the president’s stand on given court cases. The former president of the Supreme Administrative Court Josef Baxa told journalists that Mynář had, on several occasions, told him what outcome of a court case the president would welcome.

The reports have stirred concern on the Czech political scene with some MPs calling for the matter to be debated at a special session of Parliament.

Prime Minister Andrej Babiš said in connection with the scandal that he trusted Czech judges to be impartial whatever information they received.

Czechs marking 50th anniversary of Jan Palach’s death

Czechs are paying homage to the memory of student Jan Palach who set himself on fire to protest against growing public apathy to the Soviet-led invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. His action roused the public and hundreds of thousands turned out for his funeral which was perceived as a massive silent protest against the communist regime.

A mass will be served in his memory at Tyn Cathedral on Prague’s Old Town Square and people have been lighting candles and laying flowers at a plaque in his memory on Wenceslas Square, in his home town Všetaty and outside the Prague clinic where he died.

Man who set himself on fire in serious condition

The 54-year-old man who set himself on fire on Wenceslas Square on Friday remains in serious condition at the Vinohrady burns clinic in Prague. He suffered burns to 30 percent of his body and is in an induced coma after undergoing emergency surgery.

A police spokeswoman ruled out a political motive, saying the matter was still being investigated.

According to the news site Aktualne.cz the man told his brother he wanted to die like the student martyr Jan Palach, whose death by self-immolation Czechs are commemorating this week.

PM Babiš attends opening of Skoda-Volkswagen Technology Centre in India

Winding up a business-oriented visit to India, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Saturday attended the opening of a new Skoda Auto and Volkswagen Group Technology Centre in Pune.

The 250 million euro centre will employ 250 engineers and will focus primarily on developing Skoda and Volkswagen vehicles for the Indian market. The first of these models will be a mid-size SUV in the A0 segment, which will be unveiled in 2020.

Culture minister wants Villa Bertramka to get protected status

Czech Culture Minister Antonín Staněk wants the 18th century Villa Bertramka in Prague notable for its connection to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart to be declared a national cultural monument.

The villa, which was turned into a museum dedicated to the famous composer several years ago, has been closed for over two years for reconstruction. The Mozart Society running the museum has had problems revitalizing the property and making it attractive for visitors.

The culture minister says the status of a national cultural monument would help the society in its endeavour.

Mozart stayed in this villa on his visits to Prague in 1787 and 1791. The museum has acquired some of the composer’s valuable manuscripts, his harpsichord and a lock of his hair.

Plíšková reaches fourth round at Australian Open

Karolína Plíšková has reached the fourth round at the Australian Open for the third year in a row. The No. 7 seed eliminated 27th-seeded Camila Giorgi 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Plíšková will now face two-time champion Garbine Muguruza for a quarterfinal berth.

Weather forecast

Sunday should bring partly cloudy to overcast skies with day temperatures between 0 and – 4 degrees Celsius. Night time lows may drop to – 7 degrees Celsius.