Key Public Affairs party member and Transport Minister Vít Bárta says it was not his former detective agency, ABL, that spied on politicians from a district town hall in Prague in 2007, but rather one of its subcontractors. The statement comes in response to information published last week in the news outlet MF Dnes, allegedly proving ABL’s responsibility for the incident. Mr Bárta told the daily Lidové noviny that the person alleged to have done the spying was not an ABL employee but a subcontractor, and that other supposed proof had been manufactured. On Saturday he told a special press conference that he had received a job for an anticorruption programme for the Prague 11 town hall, and had run a check to make sure his company could “associate their name” with the organisation. MF Dnes claims that a number of Civic Democrat politicians from Prague 11, including the mayor, were followed by detectives seeking compromising information on them. Mr Bárta also told press that ABL had taken no political jobs or and did not attempt to discredit any politician.
Police working on the case of a young girl who went missing in October are working with a theory that the person responsible may have been trying to obtain the keys to her house in order to rob it. The daughter of a seemingly wealthy family, 9-year-old Anička Janatková was last seen walking though an unpopulated garden area near her home in Prague’s Troja neighbourhood after school. Police believe the prime suspect, an itinerant with previous burglary convictions, was monitoring the house for several days prior to the disappearance. The girl’s keys and bag were later found in separate parts of the search area. The suspect was detained by police for a while but later released on lack of evidence; he has been ordered to report to court on a regular basis.
Opposition MPs want to amend a bill intended to get parents to make use of the option of joint custody after divorce. Their modifications would make the stricter conditions for courts to be able to prescribe joint custody, for example by stipulating that both parents must live in the same city so that the child can attend only one school. The bill, introduced by the Civic Democratic Party, recommends that the courts allow joint custody in all cases where the parents want it and where it is not against the interests of the child.
The regional prosecutor in Liberec has decided to reopen the investigation into debts incurred at the Nordic World Ski Championships held in the North Bohemian town in 2009 after a police found earlier this month that it had been shelved prematurely. e organising committee of the cross country skiing event, led by former Olympic champion Kateřina Neumannová, ran up debts totalling CZK 108 million..
A festival of Japanese film and culture called Eigasai 2011 began in Prague on Saturday with the screening of the comedy film Hotel Hibiscus. The festival, which runs until the end of February, will offer seven films made over the last 25 years as well as a series of lectures, concerts, exhibitions and samples of traditional Japanese culture. In February the festival will add taditional nó and kabuki theatre in the Disk Theatre in Prague’s Old Town, and an exhibition on trends in modern Japanese architecture at Betlémské náměstí.
The latest film by Czech animator Jan Švankmajer, “Surviving Life”, will be representing Czech cinematography at the Rotterdam International Film Festival next week. An accompanying programme with be devoted to Mr Švankmajer’s artwork. The festival will run from January 26 until February 6.
The Czech Football Federation has approved the nomination of its chairman Ivan Hasek to the board of the Union of European Football Associations. The decision was announced at the end of a meeting with the Bavarian Football Association in Munich, with which a partnership agreement was reached. The nomination was sent to the UEFA headquarters in Nyon, France, and will be voted on in Paris on February 22.
Czech snowboarder Šárka Pančochová has won second place in the slope-style category of the world snowboarding championships in La Molina, Spain. The winner was Rukajärvi Enni of Finland. The victory makes 20-year-old Pačochová the highest place Czech in the history of competitive snowboarding.
Škoda drivers faired none too well at the Intercontinental Rally Challenge in Monte Carlo on Saturday. While Belgian Freddy Loix made second place at the wheel of a Skoda Fabia, Juho Hänninen from Finland finished sixth due to a poor choice of tyres and Czech driver Jan Kopecký ended in eighth place. Peugeot took the remaining top five positions, with Frenchman Bryan Bouffe winning the race.
Two Czech tennis players have made their way to the top sixteen in the Australian Open grand slam tournament. Petra Kvitová took the 3rd round to the disappointment of the home crowd, defeating fifth-seed Samantha Stosur 7-6, 6-3. Iveta Benešová then beat Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6:3, 1:6, 7:5. Benešová will now face second seed Vera Zvonareva of Russia. In the men’s tournament, Tomáš Berdych, who reached the round, on Friday will be taking on Spaniard Fernando Verdasco.
Currently cloudy conditions are expected to persist over the weekend with some snow showers and daytime temperatures at around or just below freezing.