Police have filed murder and rape charges against a man who is believed to have killed a nine-year-old schoolgirl in Prague’s Troya district last October. The five-month-long search for the missing girl ended on Wednesday when the police confirmed they had found what they believed to be her remains close to where she was last seen on her way home from school. An autopsy confirmed the child’s identity and the fact that she had died a violent death. Within hours of the find the police arrested their main suspect –a forty-one-year-old man from the northern town of Most whose DNA was found on the girl’s abandoned schoolbag. He was detained and questioned at the time of her disappearance but the police did not have enough evidence to bring him to court.
Two Czech army planes returned from Japan on Thursday morning carrying over 100 Czech nationals evacuated from the worst-hit areas of the country amid aftershocks and fears of nuclear leaks. The passengers were mainly women and children as well as students and members of the Czech Philharmonic Orchestra which was touring Japan at the time of the disaster.
A number of foreign nationals boarded the flights as well. Defence Minister Alexander Vondra said there were no plans to dispatch more evacuation flights for the time being, but he said the government was monitoring the situation closely and ready to respond to developments.
The prime minister, Petr Necas, said on Thursday there was no reason for concern regarding the safety of Czech nuclear power plants in the wake of the Japanese nuclear crisis. Mr. Necas said that the Czech Republic adhered to strict international nuclear safety standards and urged that the issue be addressed in a rational manner. He said the government had heard a report from the State Nuclear Safety Authority and that it had no plans to shut down either of the country’s nuclear power plants. The head of the Czech Nuclear Safety Office Dana Drabova has also tried to allay public concern, saying that the radiation leak in Japan has not in any way endangered the Czech Republic, nor does it require any special protective measures.
The state attorney’s office in Ceske Budejovice has brought criminal charges against 52 persons over suspected manipulations with public orders at the Defence Ministry, the CTK news agency reported on Thursday. The police say the suspects manipulated at least 30 tenders worth 300 million crowns altogether. The suspects include 11 former defence ministry employees, 38 company representatives, two notaries and one defence council. They have been charged with abuse of power, breach of compulsory rules pertaining to economic transactions, fraud, indirect bribery and criminal conspiracy. It is the most extensive case the Czech anti-corruption police has ever dealt with.
The Czech government has approved a draft amendment to the law on public orders restricting the number of orders placed without a tender because of their alleged connection with national defence and security. The amendment also toughens requirements for public orders´ initiators stipulating that they should have a security vetting certificate if placing or assessing any orders worth over 300 million crowns. The present limit is 500 million crowns. The amendment is to bring Czech legislation in line with European directives on placing public orders. The bill still needs to win approval in both houses of Parliament.
The Senate on Thursday returned a proposed amendment to the road law to the lower chamber for further debate. The bill, which, aims to simplify the penalty points system and introduce tougher sanctions against serious traffic offences which contribute to the high death toll on Czech roads, was found to be poorly tailored and in some areas inconsistent. Jaroslav Kubera, senator for the Civic Democratic Party, described the bill as “a dog’s dinner” saying it needed a lot more work in order to prove efficient.
Beatles legend Ringo Star is to make his first appearance in the Czech Republic as part of his European summer tour. The musician and his All-Starr Band are due to perform at Prague’s Congress Centre on June 29th. Ticket sales start on March 21st. The only Beatles legend to perform live in the Czech Republic was Paul McCartney who gave an open air concert in Prague in 2004.
An elephant calf in born in Ostrava Zoo last Friday is fighting for survival after its mother has repeatedly refused to nurse him. A spokesman for the zoo said the baby’s life was hanging in the balance despite efforts to bottle feed it. It is the first live elephant calf born in captivity in the Czech Republic.
The town of Zatec unwittingly sold off a rare sandstone work of art dating back to the 17th century, considering it to be a modern sculpture of no special value by an unknown artist. The new owner, who bought the statue for 500 crowns voluntarily returned it after the town hall realised its mistake. The statue of a whale was installed at the local open-air swimming pool for fifty years and the town hall was happy to get rid of it after having to close down the pool for lack of money. A local resident who learnt about the deal from the media, told the town councillors the Whale was a valuable work of art. An expert then confirmed that it is a sandstone statue from the baroque era, made around 1686 and worth up to 300,000 crowns.
The Czech Football Federation on Wednesday lifted a 10-week ban against Sparta Prague coach Jozef Chovanec for fielding junior players under false identities. Coach Chovanec, 50, will therefore be able to take charge of his side for their league match against Zbrojovka Brno on Saturday.
Chovanec was alleged to have withdrawn two Sparta players from an international under-21 match and then selected them for a club fixture under different identities. The duo played with shirts bearing the names of other players, but the deceit was exposed a day later when photographs of the match were published. The club, who are currently second in the Czech league, five points behind Viktoria Pilsen, were fined 30,660 euros, while the players were suspended for two matches.
The next few days will be mainly overcast, with rain showers and snow in higher places. Daytime highs will range between 5 and 9 degrees Celsius.