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Top court upholds strict sentences for Vítkov arsonists

The Czech Supreme Court has rejected a complaint by four men who in 2009 firebombed a Romany home, and upheld their sentences of 20 and 22 years in jail, a spokesman for the court said on Wednesday. The four arsonists threw a Molotov cocktail into a house in the village of Vítkov in the north of the country, inhabited by a Romany family. A two-year-old girl suffered severe burns in the attack, and has since had to undergo a series of operations. The court rejected the appeal as “obviously unsubstantiated”, the spokesman said.

Justice Minister proposes tougher punishment for repeated minor offences

The Justice Ministry is planning to establish a centralized registry of minor offences to boost the fight against petty crime, Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil told reporters on Wednesday. The ministry proposes that people who repeatedly commit minor offences should receive tougher punishment. Mr Pospíšil said efficient prosecution of minor offences was impossible without the existence of some kind of public record of offences and sanctions. He added that the existing registries serve only as statistics. The Justice Minister is now submitting his proposal to the government for discussion. If approved it could come into effect in mid-2013.

Analysts warn unemployment in 2012 might exceed 10 percent

Analysts and trade organizations approached by the ČTK news agency predict that the unemployment rate in the Czech Republic next year might exceed ten percent. That is two percent more than official unemployment figures released by the Labour Ministry in November. The construction industry, employing some 400,000 people, is expected to be the worst affected. According to an optimistic scenario, suggested by most respondents, the average unemployment rate will be around nine percent, and only exceed the ten percent level in certain months. However, should the problems in the euro zone intensify, firms might effect more layoffs.

Police to probe Czech communist leader’s condolence to North Korea

Police will probe the Czech communist party chairman’s condolence to North Korean communists on the death of the dictator Kim Jong-il, the daily Právo reported on Wednesday, quoting a police spokeswoman. Czech Justice Minister Jiří Pospíšil said the authorities should determine whether Vojtěch Filip, the head of the Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia, broke the law by expressing sympathies to the late North Korean leader. In his letter of condolence, Mr Filip said Kim Jong-il sacrificed himself for the well-being of the people of North Korea, adding he believed the North Korean communist party would continue leading the heroic struggle for the defence of socialism. If convicted of breaching the Czech law prohibiting support for totalitarian movements and regimes, the Czech communist leader would face up to three years in jail.

Poll: most Czechs oppose church property restitutions

A new poll carried out by the STEM agency suggests that 69 percent of Czechs believe the state should not return property seized by the communist regime to churches. The government is currently working on a church property law but it has yet to be approved by ministers for the Public Affairs party. The government has so far agreed to pay 59 billion crowns to churches in a period of 30 years; including inflation the amount could reach up to 96 billion crowns. The churches are also to be returned 56 percent of their property seized by the communist regime. By 2030, churches should also gradually stop receiving money from the state.

Václav Havel’s former secretary against renaming of airport after late ex-president

Vladimír Hanzel, former secretary to the late ex-president Václav Havel, told the ČTK news agency that he disapproved of the call signed by around 60,000 Czechs for Prague’s international airport to be renamed after the deceased Czech leader. According to Mr Hanzel, Mr Havel did not like flying. Mr Hanzel also pointed out that airports are commercial enterprises and suggested that a cultural or educational institution should be named after Václav Havel instead. The idea to rename Prague Airport was first put forward by film director and producer Fero Fenič. According to the news website idnes.cz, the idea has received backing from Mr Havel’s family. Former president Václav Havel died at the age of 75 on December 18 after a protracted illness. In neighbouring Poland, the northern city of Gdansk named one of its streets after Mr Havel on December 23, the day of his funeral.

2011 sees one of ten warmest Decembers since 1934

The Czech Hydrometeorological Office has reported that temperatures in December have been well above the average with daytime highs reaching up to ten degrees Celsius on some days. The long term average for December in the Czech Republic is minus one degree Celsius. Still a few days before the end of the month, meteorologists say this year’s December has been one of the warmest Decembers in this country since 1934. On Christmas Eve, the average daytime temperature in the Czech Republic was 5.4 degrees, but reached 9.2 degrees near the South Moravian town of Znojmo. Above average temperatures have also been forecast for the beginning of 2012.

Police conclude investigation into Monyová murder

Police say they have concluded an investigation into the murder of the popular novelist Simona Monyová and submitted the case to the regional state prosecutor in South Moravia. Ms Monyová was stabbed to death in August in her home in Brno, reportedly after a domestic dispute. Police immediately charged the author’s husband, 45-year-old Boris Ingr, with murder. Mr Ingr has been in custody since August but the motive of the murder remains unclear. Ms Monyová’s friends indicated after her death that she had been a victim of domestic violence.

Body parts found in Prague believed to have belonged to one person

The preliminary results of an autopsy carried out on the human remains discovered this month in different parts of Prague suggest they belonged to the same person, a police spokesman said on Wednesday. On Christmas Eve a human torso in a plastic bag was found in a park in Prague 3. Two human hands, cut off and taped together, were found in a park in the south of Prague early in December. The body is believed to have belonged to a woman aged 40 to 45 years. A DNA analysis is yet to confirm the preliminary results.

Candles at St Wenceslas statue to be removed ahead of New Year’s celebrations

The Prague street cleaning service has announced it will remove all candles from Prague’s Wenceslas Square in the early hours of Saturday ahead of New Year’s celebrations. People have been lighting candles and laying flowers spontaneously at the foot of the statue of St Wenceslas in the square since the death of former president Václav Havel on December 18th. The city authorities say they are afraid the site of mourning might be damaged during the upcoming celebrations.


The coming days should be partly cloudy to overcast with daytime temperatures reaching highs of four degrees Celsius.