The Czech Intelligence Service BIS has said it is assisting the investigation into the bombing and shooting massacre in Norway within its means, by providing Norwegian colleagues with any information considered relevant. The anti-Islamic zealot who claimed responsibility for the attacks that killed 90 people wrote in his notorious internet manifesto that he had visited Prague in 2010 with the aim of illegally acquiring weapons as well as illicit drugs. According to his own words he was unsuccessful and left empty handed after 5 days. BIS spokesman Jan Šubert said on Monday that the Czech intelligence service was in touch with its Norwegian colleagues to answer questions and provide any information that could help with the case.
Although the Czech authorities tightened security around key sites in the wake of the attacks, the special measures have now been called off.
Meanwhile, members of the public have been laying flowers and lighting candles in front of the Norwegian Embassy in Prague in memory of the victims of Friday’s brutal attacks.
The Czech Labour and Social Affairs Ministry has said it will stop the practice of financially compensating Czech pensioners who worked for Slovak companies before the 1993 break-up of Czechoslovakia and would thus have been eligible for smaller pensions. The Czech state had been making up for the difference and topping up pensions until a European court of law pointed out that the practice discriminated those EU citizens who had worked for Czech companies and were now getting lower pensions in their home countries. The Czech Labour Ministry said it was not in a position to continue the compensations since demands from foreign nationals who would be considered eligible could exceed 100 billion crowns annually which the country was not in a position to cover.
The police were called to Šumava National Park on Monday following a confrontation between environmentalists and loggers over the cutting of bark-beetle infested trees in the area. Following a week-long blockade of the protected area near Modravá by environmental activists, loggers arrived on Monday morning and started felling marked trees. The park’s management called in the police which forcibly evicted the protesters from the area on the grounds of a court order.
The Czech branch of Friends of the Earth which organized the vigil says the park management had failed to obtain an exemption required to cut in the most protected parts of the park, the park’s management maintains that the blockade is illegal. The police said it had received complaints both from the activists and the park’s management.
The arrest of Goran Hadzic, the last major Serb war crimes fugitive, has removed the last serious obstacle on the road to Serbia’s EU accession, Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg said following talks with his Serbian counterpart Vuk Jeremic in Prague on Monday. Foreign Minister Jeremic said Serbia would work hard to fulfil all the requirements for EU accession and hoped that it would be officially recognized as a candidate country and start accession talks by the end of the year. The meeting of Czech and Serbian foreign ministers likewise focussed on bilateral trade and emerging investment opportunities.
The Swiss Justice Ministry has denied claims that the convicted Czech businessman Tomáš Pitr, who is in custody in Switzerland, is likely be released next week. The news first appeared on the website Parlamentni Listy which said that Swiss law does not allow foreigners to be held in custody for more than one year. Erwin Jenni of the Swiss Justice Ministry told the CTK news agency on Monday that Mr. Pitr would most definitely not be released until extradition proceedings have been concluded. He said there was no article in the law to say that foreigners could not be held in custody for more than a year and noted that people in such circumstances are only released on health grounds which does not apply to the Czech businessman. Mr. Jenni said it was impossible to say how much longer the extradition proceedings would take and pointed out that the verdict could still be appealed, which could draw out the process further.
Tomáš Pitr was sentenced to five years for tax evasion in 2006 but fled the country to avoid prison. He was later sentenced in absentia for another crime, raising the sentence to six years. He was arrested last year in St. Moritz.
The passenger of an ultra-light plane which crashed near Prachatice a week ago has died in hospital. The pilot succumbed to his injuries shortly after the crash. It is still not clear what caused the accident. Police have urged greater caution citing six deaths in flying accidents since June 11th of this year.
The police have filed charges against a forty-nine-year old man from Ostrava who is believed to have sexually abused a number of underage girls in return for small favours. The man allegedly befriended the schoolgirls over the internet, and repeatedly met up with them recording the sessions on a video camera. The case came to light after one of the parents found pictures of her naked daughter among her school belongings. The police have issued repeated warnings about the dangers of children surfing the net and the fact that a growing number of perpetrators find their victims in this way.
Trust in the European single currency among Czechs has been waning. According to a survey conducted by the polling agency CVVM 68 percent of respondents are not in favour of adopting the euro, as compared to 21 percent who would still welcome the adoption of the single currency. 11 percent said they did not have a strong opinion on the subject. Support for the euro is at its lowest ever. It peaked in 2003 -a year before the country’s admission to the EU -when 58 percent of Czechs said the country should join the euro as soon as possible after admission.
A 62-year-old night watchman in the Kladno area suffered serious injuries on Sunday after being attacked by his own Rottweiler; the man was airlifted to a Prague hospital. In the incident a man close by attempted to pull the frenzied animal off the owner but was unsuccessful and had to run to a nearby village for help. The dog was shot dead by a local hunter. The incident is being investigated by the police.
The state-owned forest company Lesy CR has said that last week’s flooding in the northern and eastern parts of the country had caused damage estimated to the tune of 21,5 million crowns. A clean-up and reconstruction operation is underway. The company manages 1,3 million hectares of forestland, which amounts to half of the country’s forests.
The coming days should be partly cloudy to overcast with scattered showers and with afternoon highs reaching 23 degrees Celsius.