The Czech news site Novinky has reported that the 41-year-old suspect in the rape and murder of nine-year-old Anička in Prague last October attempted to hang himself in a Pankrác prison holding cell. According to the site, prison personnel were able to save the man in time and he was transported to hospital for treatment. The suspect is thought to have used either clothing or a bed sheet in the suicide attempt. The man was last week charged with the murder and rape of the child after police discovered her body buried in the district of Trója, near where she was last seen alive. Her disappearance, which shocked the country last autumn, led to extensive searches over the last five months by the police.
Czech industry and trade deputy minister Tomáš Hüner has attacked the possibility of early closure dates for nuclear plants as part Europe-wide evaluations. Speaking at a meeting in Brussels on Monday, Mr. Hüner said reactor age limits of 15-20 years would be a problem for the Czech Republic but 30-40 years would not. He said some EU countries were pushing for age limits to form part of a new wave of safety tests in the wake of the scare at a Japanese plant following an earthquake and tsunami wave. National regulators are due to submit criteria for tests by the middle of the year. The Czech Republic’s oldest reactor at Dukovany dates from 1985.
Newspapers reported Monday that many Czech corner shops, newsagents and petrol stations have disconnected their Sportka lottery terminals amid fears that the parent company Sazka will go bankrupt. Terminal operators fear they will lose their 70,000 crown deposits if the national lottery company collapses. The newspaper Hospodářské noviny reported that tickets were almost impossible to buy in the capital. Sazka has faced insolvency proceedings since the start of January and has recently had trouble paying its lottery jackpot winners. The lottery company has itself applied for insolvency to be declared. It is burdened by repayments for the giant sports hall built in Prague for the 2004 world ice hockey championships with creditors seeking a radical overhaul of the national lottery company.
Austrian actor Helmut Berger, know for his role in many of the films of Luchino Visconti, and Australian director Peter Weir will be among the headline guests at Prague’s international film festival Febiofest which starts on March 24 and lasts until April 1. The festival will screen 190 films from 56 countries. Weir’s latest film Escape from Siberia will be one of them. Ahead ticket sales have been especially strong for a look at Swedish films, collection of Asian films and gay and lesbian films according to festival organiser Fero Fenič.
The state prosecutor in the case against the head of the state’s accounting watchdog, the Supreme Audit Office, has called for a financial penalty to be imposed on him for misuse of state property. The prosecutor said audit office head František Dohnal had far exceeded allowable expenses to the tune of 1.1 million crowns when presenting the bill for the rent of two flats to the state. A verdict in the case is expected on Friday. Mr. Dohnal says he did not abuse his expenses and says the case against him has been politically inspired. He could face a five year jail sentence and start of proceedings to remove him from his post.
Civic leaders from the town of Moravský Krumlov say they will submit an agreement to Prague City Council over the future loan of Czech artist Alphonse Mucha’s Slav Epic series of paintings within the next month. An agreement over the future loan of the painting which were shown at the town castle until the autumn when some were transferred to the capital is needed in order to tap possible grants for repairs. The town is also engaged in talks with the castle’s owner, a Slovak building company, about the transfer, sale or rent of the castle. Prague city and the Moravian town have been in a drawn out tug of war over the paintings which were originally promised to the Czech capital on condition that a special building would house them. For almost half a century they were shown in the Moravian town and become its main tourist draw until they were stored and transferred to Prague.
Former health minister Bohumil Fišer has died, it was announced on Monday. He was minister in the Social Democrat cabinet of Miloš Zeman from 2000 to 2002. He came to the post as a worldwide expert on heat disease and hypertension having published more than 300 works on the issues. The webpage of the newspaper Právo said Mr. Fišer had succumbed to cancer.
Czech human rights watchdog, the ombudsman, has warned that government cuts in social security payments are driving some families to the limits of survival. Pavel Vavařovský on Monday said families in some cases had lost thousands of crowns earmarked for children’s maintenance and upbringing in advice to authorities on how treat families asking for emergency help. Families, he advised, could turn to local authorities for one off emergency payments and help with their housing. Social security payments have been pared back for families with incomes of less than twice the individual minimum.
The Czech national football team began preparations on Monday for one of the biggest games of the year, the away match against Spain in the 2012 European championship to be played on Friday. Striker Milan Baroš is in the team after a lay-off due to injury. The Czechs are looking for some sort of result against the reigning world and European champions to keep alive their hopes of qualification. A game against minnows, Liechtenstein follows on March 29. The national team is currently in second place in its qualifying group with six points. If it can maintain that position it is likely to be in two-leg playoffs for a place in the finals. A win against Spain would, however, raise hopes of topping the group and automatic qualification.
Ladislav Novák, who captained Czechoslovakia to the World Cup final in 1962, has passed away at the age of 79. The former left-back died on Monday morning, the Czech Republic national football association has confirmed. The cause of death was not given. Novák guided his side past Hungary and Yugoslavia in the knock-out rounds of the 1962 tournament, which was hosted by Chile, before they were beaten 3-1 by Brazil in the final. He won 75 caps for Czechoslovakia between 1952-66, captaining the national side for 71 of those appearances. Novák also played at the 1954 and 1958 World Cups, and later spent a brief stint as manager of his national side.
The beginning of the week should see sunny conditions, with daytime highs of up to nine degrees Celsius.