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Zeman proposes ex-minister Válková for ombudsman post

President Miloš Zeman has proposed former minister of justice and current government commissioner for human rights Helena Válková for the post of the Czech Republic’s ombudsman. The head of state made the recommendation in a letter to MPs. Mr. Zeman wrote that he had wished to also propose a second nominee but they rejected the idea.

The current holder of the ombudsman’s post, former dissident Anna Šabatová, steps down in February when her six year term ends.

Opposition politicians have rejected Ms. Válková as a potential ombudswoman. The leaders of TOP 09 and the Pirates pointed to her membership of the Communist Party prior to 1989 while the head of the Civic Democrats said it would be a “jobs for the boys” type appointment.

Police charge 58 over smuggling CZK 2 billion in drugs

Police in the Czech Republic have charged 58 people with involvement in the trafficking of cocaine and heroin worth over CZK 2 billion to Australia. Czech officers worked with colleagues in the US and Australia to uncover the activities of the group, whose members could face up to 18 years in jail if found guilty.

Three main organisers are accused of engaging couriers in the Czech Republic to transport drugs from what police described as countries close to production areas. The mules, mainly operating as couples, attempted to pass off their smuggling missions as regular holidays.

Home Credit denies hiring agency to improve image of Communist China

The loans company Home Credit said it hired the agency C&B Reputation Management earlier this year in order to help improve Czech-Chinese relations. However, the firm – which is owned by the richest Czech, Petr Kellner – denied it had asked the agency to promote the interests of any foreign state. The news site Aktuálně.cz reported earlier this week that C&B Reputation Management had been hired to boost the image of the Chinese Communist regime.

Home Credit said in a statement that its activities were focused on business not politics, adding that it hired the agency to protect itself from “media attacks” that damaged its business.

Huge Czech demolition digger arrives at scene of Slovak gas explosion

A huge demolition digger from the Czech Republic has arrived in the Slovak city of Prešov to help tear down the upper floors of an apartment block where a gas explosion occurred last week, leaving seven people dead. The demolition job will begin at the start of next week and will take around four days.

The enormous digger, which is based in the Central Bohemian town of Kladno, weighs 214 tonnes and motorists were advised to avoid its route, while some public transport services in Prešov were rerouted in view of its arrival.

Both people injured in fatal Ostrava hospital shooting now released

The second of two people injured in a fatal shooting incident at a hospital in Ostrava on Tuesday was released on Friday. Six people were killed in an attack at a hospital waiting room while one other victim succumbed to her injuries on Thursday, taking the death toll to seven. The perpetrator shot himself dead on the day of the incident before he could be apprehended by the police. A first injured person was allowed to go home on Thursday.

The hospital shooting was the second worst incident of its kind in modern Czech history.

Prague airport sets passenger record with 17 million for year

Prague’s Václav Havel Airport reached 17 million passengers for 2019 on Friday, the highest number it has ever handled in one year. The figure is 6 percent up on the number of passengers using the airport in 2018. The average number handled a day this year has been around 49,000.

The airport’s operators said it was close to its maximum capacity. Some CZK 16 billion is to be invested in expanding its second terminal between now and 2028 and capacity is expected to reach up to 23 million annually by 2035.

Weather forecast

It should be rainy in the Czech Republic on Sunday, with temperatures of around 8 degrees Celsius. Next week is expected to see mainly cloudy weather with daytime highs ranging from 7 to 10 degrees Celsius.