Daily news summary News

24-01-2014

Metrostav ordered to resume work on Blanka tunnel

A court of arbitration has ordered the construction firm Metrostav to resume work on the controversial Blanka tunnel complex in Prague. In a preliminary ruling, the court dismissed claims raised by Prague City Hall that its contracts with Metrostav on the Blanka construction were invalid. The dispute between Prague and building firm ended at a court of arbitration after Metrostav halted work on the tunnel in December, a move provoked by the City Hall’s decision not to pay some 2.1 billion crowns it owed the company.

Dawn party leader visits man jailed for Roma murder

The head of the Dawn party, MP Tomio Okamura, on Friday visited Vlastimil Pechanec who is serving a 17-year-jail term for a racially-motivated murder of a Romany man. Mr Okamura said he wanted to hear Pechanec’ account of the events; he said the 2003 trial against Pechanec had been manipulated, and would like to have the case reopened. In a reaction, former state attorney who oversaw the case, Renáta Vesecká said Mr Okamura’s claims were “ridiculous”.

Vlastimil Pechanec was sentenced to 17 years in prison after he was found guilty of stabbing a Romany man to death at a disco in Svitavy in 2001. He later told the court he was a “supporter of the white race”, and wanted the country to be free of Roma and black people.

Czech Olympic Committee gets terrorist threat warning

The Czech Olympic Committee has received a “terrorist threat” warning, advising the Czech sports team not to attend the Sochi Winter Olympics. A spokesman said the threat came by email on Thursday and the committee had informed the police. Other countries, including the US, Italy, Germany, Hungary and Slovakia, have received similar warnings. The International Olympic Committee has downplayed the security risk, noting that the messages seemed like the random act of an individual out to cause trouble.

President nominates Křeček for Ombudsman

President Miloš Zeman has nominated Stanislav Křeček to the post of Ombudsman, following the resignation of Pavel Varvařovský late last year. Mr. Křeček has served as deputy Ombudsman since April of last year. The president’s nomination will be considered by the Senate which can put forward two nominees of its own. The only other contestant for the post is Anna Šabatová, a human rights activist, who worked for the country’s first Ombudsman, the late Otakar Motejl.

Agrofert Group posts record revenues

Unconsolidated revenues of Agrofert Group, a Czech food, agriculture, chemistry and media conglomerate, rose last year by 15 percent to a record 226 billion crowns, or around 11.2 billion US dollars, a spokesman for the group told the Czech News Agency on Friday. The company’s gross profit minus dividend yields decreased by 26 percent to 5.7 billion crowns. The increase in revenues was mainly generated by newly acquired companies including the German baking firm Lieken, the Mafra media group, and others, according to the spokesman.

Agrofert Group is solely owned by ANO party leader and incoming finance minister Andrej Babiš who only recently quit as the corporation’s CEO.

Two former Public Affairs MPs cleared of corruption charges

The Czech Supreme Court on Friday cleared former Public Affairs MPs Vít Bárta and Jaroslav Škárka of corruption charges. Mr Bárta, former head of the Public Affairs party, was accused of bribing several MPs of his party to ensure their loyalty; Mr Škárka, meanwhile, was charged with accepting the bribe. A lower court in Prague originally handed the men suspended sentences, a verdict which was overturned by an appeals court. Justice Minister Marie Benešová then filed a complaint to the Supreme Court which however ruled no offence was committed, arguing the cash had been a loan rather than a bribe.

Social Democrats to finalize EP ballot in early February

The Social Democrats are planning to finalize their ballot for European elections by February 8, party leader Bohuslav Sobotka said. The ballot will be headed by leftist sociologist and columnist Jan Keller. Social Democrat leaders said the Czech Republic should become a respected member of the EU, and improve the drawing on EU funds. Voting for the European Parliament is scheduled for May.

Anti-monopoly office approves takeover of Tesco stores

The Office for the Protection of Competition on Friday approved the takeover of 22 Tesco locations in north Moravia by the Czech retail chain Hruška. Tesco Stores ČR acquired the network in 2011 but decided to sell them earlier this year. The firm, which operates 230 stores, 19 gas stations and seven department stores in the country, posted a loss of more than a billion crowns in the past fiscal year. Hruška, meanwhile, runs one of the largest Czech retail networks, and reported a profit of 131 million crowns last year.

Police search for highway iPhone robbers

The Czech police have announced they are searching for two men who stole a shipment of 2,630 iPhones 5S 16 GB worth over 30 million crowns on the D2 motorway between Brno and the Slovak border. The robbery took place in mid-December, a police spokesman said. The robbers dressed up as police patrolmen and pulled over the van, carrying the phones destined for the Slovak market; they bound the crew, took the phones and drove off. The police are also searching for any witnesses who might have seen the robbery.

Filming begins of Czech TV’s version of The Office

Filming of the Czech version of the British hit series The Office began in Brno on Friday. The country’s public broadcaster Czech TV bought the rights for the first six episodes that should be aired in the second half of the year. The series is being shot at an office centre in Brno, the seat of the fictional Paper and Print company. The start of the filming was planned for Thursday but was delayed to an injury of actor Václav Kopta who plays the main character, David Brent.

Museum discovers rare Egyptian mummy cloth in its collections

Curators at the Regional Museum in Olomouc have discovered a rare piece of textile proceeding from the mummy of the Egyptian pharaoh Ramesses II, the museum’s director told reporters on Friday. The fragment was discovered by chance while going through a collection that was curated by a former employee. The cloth, which was separated from the mummy in 1886, originally belonged to a Viennese photographer, the director said, adding that curators had had no idea how it ended in the museum’s collection. The rare textile will now be examined by experts before it is displayed to the public in March.

Football: Czechs seeded in Pot 2 for Euro 2016 qualification draw

The Czech national football team has been seeded in Pot 2 for the upcoming draw of the EURO 2016 qualification, along with Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Ukraine and four other teams. The strongest national sides including titleholders Spain are seeded in Pot 1. One team from each pot will be drawn into nine qualifications groups at a ceremony on February 23. 53 European teams will enter qualification competing for 23 spots at the final tournament to be played in France.

Meteorologists warn of severe frost

Meteorologists on Friday warned of severe frost that will hit the Czech Republic at the weekend. Temperatures at night are expected to drop to around -12 degrees Celsius. Freezing temperatures should hit Moravia on Friday night; in western Czech Republic, frost is expected a day later. The forecasters said young children as well as the elderly should limit time spent outdoors.

Weather

A spell of cold weather with frost is expected over the weekend, with daytime highs ranging between 0 and -5 degrees Celsius.

24-01-2014