The district court in Zlín on Monday extended an earlier decision remanding three main suspects in the ‘Methanol Affair’ in custody. Two of the men - Rudolf Fian and accomplice Tomáš Křepela – are suspected of having concocted the deadly mix of enthanol and methyl alcohol that led to an outbreak of poisioning across the Czech Republic in mid-September. The third man, Jiří Vacula, was allegedly involved in passing the tainted product on to other distributors. The Zlín state prosecutor explained that if the suspects were released there was danger they could try and evade justice. The trio face between 12 to 20 years behind bars if found guilty. Thirty-eight people died of poisoning after the outbreak; the authorities have issued warnings ahead of the holiday season asking consumers not to drink any hard liquor of unknown origin ie. not containing new excise stamps. It is thought that some 5,000 litres of poisoned alcohol may still be in circulation on store shelves or in households.
The Slovak president, Ivan Gašparovič, visited Prague on Monday. His arrival in the Czech capital came ahead of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the peaceful breakup of Czechoslovakia on January 1 1993. Mr. Gašparovič was expected to discuss developments since the split with his Czech counterpart, Václav Klaus, who received the Slovak head of state at Prague Castle. The two presidents agreed there were no painful or unresolved issues between the two states. Mr. Klaus is to visit Bratislava in February, a month before he steps down as Czech president.
Bestselling author Michal Viewegh is recovering in hospital after suffering serious health complications at the weekend, news website idnes has reported. The 50-year-old writer, who was home alone on Saturday, called an ambulance after experiencing chest pains, the daily writes. In hospital, a doctor learned the author had suffered an apparently small tear to his aorta; similar conditions are often fatal. Mr Viewegh underwent an emergency four-hour emergency operation; his publisher Martin Reiner confirmed the author is in stable condition.
Czech president Václav Klaus said on Monday that the Czech absence in Oslo at the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize to the EU was “not worth discussion”, saying if the media hadn’t drawn attention “nobody in Oslo would have noticed”. The European Union, as a body, was awarded the peace prize this year, a move that the Czech Republic’s euro sceptic president called a tragic mistake. Three top EU representatives, President Herman van Rompuy, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Parliament President Martin Schulz in Oslo accepted the award on behalf of the EU. Representatives of a majority of member states also attended. Mr Klaus has maintained that the award makes sense when given to a person - not to an institution.
Former Communist-era prosecutor and judge, Karel Vaš, a key figure in show trials in the late 1940s and early 1950s in Czechoslovakia, is dead at 96. The news website iDnes was the first to report the story. After 1989, the former judge was charged with, as the main prosecutor, having contributed to the judicial murder of General Heliodor Píka in 1949; he was never punished as the case fell under the statute of limitations.
The police labelled the trial of Píka (a representative of the anti-Nazi resistance) a judicial farce. An investigation found that a fake document was added to General Píka’s file ‘proving’ he had worked for British intelligence. Karel Vaš joined the Communist Party at the age of 17 and became a prosecutor and judge after the Communists assumed power in Czechoslovakia in 1948.
A cold spell in the Czech Republic, with temperatures dropping well below zero, claimed seven lives since Friday. Five of the victims, who died from exposure, were from Moravia and two were from Bohemia, the majority of them believed to be homeless. The latest victim, a man, was found at 4 am on Monday near a bridge in Ostrava. An autopsy has been ordered. The homeless community is the most at risk section of society in freezing temperatures and shelters in various parts of the country have reported being filled to capacity. Sunday night was the coldest so far, with temperatures in places falling to -12 and even -20 degrees Celsius.
Twelve people, including three civil servants in the department of transport at the town hall in Kolín, central Bohemia, were arrested last week on suspicion of having legalised, on at least 44 counts, vehicles or parts from cars, stolen in Germany, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Two of the three civil servants have been remanded in custody. The police believe the system was facilitated by the three at city hall, in return for bribes. Those arrested, if found guilty, could face up to 10 years in prison. The police say the ring of suspects could still be broadened.
A second opinion poll released over the last week or so has suggested that if the national election were held today, the opposition Social Democrats and Communist Party would come in first and second, with the head of the current coalition, the Civic Democratic Party finishing third. According to the poll, conducted by ppm factum, the Social Democrats would secure 25.6 percent of the vote, the Communists 16.3 percent, and the right-of-centre Civic Democrats 15.7. The two opposition parties would win a combined total of 112 – a more than comfortable majority in the 200-seat Chamber of Deputies.
The survey suggests that three other parties would make it into the lower house: TOP 09 (10.5 percent), the Christian Democrats (6.4) and Zemanovci (5.7).
Organisers have confirmed that British rock musician Peter Gabriel will perform in Prague next October. The musician is going on tour performing material in its entirety from his acclaimed album So – 25 years after the original record was released. Petr Novák of Live Nation, organising the Prague concert, said tickets for the show will go on sale on December 13th, ranging in price from 1,090 to 1990 crowns. Peter Gabriel’s solo career began after he departed from Genesis; other highly-regarded albums include 1980’s Melt and 1982’s Security, which featured the hit song Shock the Monkey.
City councillors are to decide on the future of 10 million crowns as well as around 50 million crowns worth of property left to Prague Zoo by 81-year-old Stanislav Rákos, who died in September. The zoo would like to use the cash funds donated to build a new pavilion for large parrots (birds the late donor loved). City councillor Helena Chudomelová told the Czech news agency she saw no reason why the donation should not be approved, saying such gestures were once in a lifetime.
Overcast conditions are expected on Tuesday; daytime temperatures will remain below zero at -3 degrees Celsius