Czech police say they found another explosive device in the new building of the Palestinian embassy in Prague, according to the news website novinky.cz. The explosive was reportedly hidden in a book and was found during a search of the building following the blast that killed the ambassador, Jamal al-Jamal, on New Year’s Day.
Police also found unregistered weapons at the embassy. Palestinian officials said they were donated by former Czechoslovakia’s communist authorities. The Palestinians have meanwhile officially apologized to the Czech Republic for storing weapons at the Prague embassy.
Czech Foreign Minister Jan Kohout has rejected Palestinian claims that a visit by the Czech ambassador to Israel to a Jewish settlement on the West Bank damaged the peace process. Palestinian Liberation Organisation executive committee member Saeb Erekat wrote to the EU’s top diplomat, Baroness Catherine Ashton, complaining of the visit by ambassador Tomáš Pojar. Kohout said it would have been more appropriate for the PLO to take up the matter in Prague rather than Brussels. Tensions have mounted with Palestinian representatives since the safe explosion which killed their Czech ambassador.
Commemorations in Prague on Thursday are marking the 45th anniversary since student Jan Palach set fire to himself to protest the Soviet-led invasion of former Czechoslovakia and its aftermath. Palach set fire to himself in Prague’s Wenceslas Square on January 16, 1969, and died from his burns three days later. A commemoration of the young student has been scheduled at Charles University’s Philosophy Faculty, where Palach was a student. It is one of a series of events taking place. Palach said his protest was aimed at the acceptance by his fellow citizens of the clampdown on liberties which had prompted the Soviet-led invasion half a year earlier.
Five women candidates are reported to be on incoming prime minister Bohuslav Sobotka’s shortlist to become Minister of Labour and Social affairs. A Social Democrat spokesman said Thursday that deputy hejtman for the Olomouc region, Yvona Kubjátová, had been added to the existing list. Sobotka is expected to decide who will fill the post on Friday. His previous nominee, Petr Krčál, stood down from the proposed Cabinet position for family reasons. The Social Democrats had no women in their original line up of ministers for the proposed three-way government.
The Czech Chamber of Commerce faces allegations of fraud over applications for EU funds. The European Anti-Fraud Office, or OLAF, found that the Chamber falsified the signatures of people who it said would work on the administration of EU grants and also submitted fake declarations to secure funding, Czech Radio reported quoting sources in Brussels. The Czech Chamber of Commerce has appealed against OLAF’s findings but said it would fully cooperate in the investigations. The European Commission has also criticized the Chamber’s role in supervising a Czech programme encouraging the take up of research and innovation which provided funding to several of its member companies.
The number of Czechs who have celebrated their 100th birthdays is increasing. There were 1143 so called centurions aged 100 or over in January according to the Czech Social Services Administration. That is an increase on the 850 registered in June last year. Of the latest total, 954 were women and 189 men.
Czech gas and oil company MND has announced the purchase of a 70% stake in rights to explore for natural gas in south-west Germany. Possible reserves around Neuried could eventually amount to five times the natural gas which MND currently exploits in the Czech Republic every year. MND says it has around 10 billion crowns to buy up foreign oil and gas rights, reserves, and companies.
The European Commission has approved Czech group PPF’s takeover of one of the country’s biggest telecom groups, Telefónica Czech. Officials in Brussels said there were no competition concerns raised by the 63.6 billion crown deal which was sealed last November. PPF bought an almost 66 percent stake in the company and its Slovak counterpart from the Spanish owners.
In tennis, Czech Barbora Záhlovová-Strýcová failed to create an upset against second seeded Victoria Azarenka in the second round of the Australian Open. Záhlovová-Strýcová went down 6:1. 6:4 in spite of a fight back in the second set in which she twice broke the Belarusian’s serve.
Czech rally driver Aleš Loprais has won his first stage of this year’s Dakar Rally. The Tatra truck driver triumphed in the 10th stage of the lorry competition with a 37 second advance on his second placed rival at the finishing line. Loprais is now placed fourth in the overall competition and says he wants to make a bid for the third place by the time the competition concludes on Saturday.
The coming days will be mostly overcast with fog in places and daytime highs ranging between 3 and 7 degrees Celsius. Showers are expected on Friday but should cease before the weekend.