Daily news summary
Shooting in Ostrava hospital leaves six dead and three injured, suspect also dead
A shooting in the University Hospital in Ostrava has left seven people dead and a further three injured. At around 7am on Tuesday, a man started firing at the heads and chests of people in the hospital's traumatology waiting room. Four people died immediately, a further two in intensive care. All of the victims are reported to have been patients. A Rapid Deployment Unit of the police was soon dispatched to the hospital was placed under lockdown.
The suspect, a construction engineer with a criminal record identified as Citrad V., used an illegally held 9mm handgun. He then fled in a grey Renault before shooting himself in the head and later dying in hospital. His employer told Czech Radio that the man believed himself to be very ill and frequently visited medical stations.
Prime minister Andrej Babiš and Health Minister Adam Vojtěch arrived at the hospital later in the day. Mr. Vojtěch has also set up a special crisis team. President Milos Zeman, has offered his "deep condolences" and is in contact with the interior minister, according to his spokesman. Other politicians have also been expressing their condolences. Police President Jan Švejdar thanked policemen for their "rapid and professional" reaction.
The Ostrava hospital shooting is the second most tragic in the history of the Czech Republic. In February 2015, a man in a restaurant in Uherský Brod shot eight people before taking his own life.
Aktuálně: Home Credit allegedly paid for pro-China campaign
The consumer finance group Home Credit, owned by the richest Czech Petr Kellner, hired a PR agency to improve the media image of the Communist Party of China and thus influence Czech society in its favour, news site Aktuálně reported on Tuesday, citing documents in its possession.
From April to August 2019, money for some 2,000 hours of work was apparently paid by Home Credit to C&B Reputation Management. The PR agency was hired to “help those who support the Chinese regime in the media and attack its critics” and also organised the creation and activities of an institute called Sinoskop – Institut for Contemporary China, Aktuálně writes. However, the director of the agency, Tomáš Sazima, says that its work was only to “moderate the debate about China and bring in relevant elements”.
In an annual report published last month the Czech counterintelligence service BIS considered the spread of China's influence in the Czech Republic to be one of the greatest security threats.
Police and interior minister deny “asking” Prague to test facial recognition technology in surveillance cameras
Both the Police and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček have denied that there were any attempts to make Prague City Hall begin with the testing of test facial recognition technology in surveillance cameras. Their statements were made after Czech Radio’s online news site iRozhlas acquired a letter sent in September by the Regional Police Directorate to City Hall, which talked about facial recognition testing in specific areas, including Prague Airport and strategic metro and railway stations.
According to the interior minister the whole issue has been inflated and the police issued no demands, but simply voiced their suggestions with intent to start a debate. However, iRozhlas has pointed to the fact that the Police Deputy for External Service Petr Matějíček writes twice asking “for a pilot project to verify the functionality of face recognition cameras in selected locations of the city”.
Prague City Hall councillors have indicated they will not allow the police to activate automatic facial recognition cameras in the city.
State to collect CZK 1.6 billion dividend from Prague Airport after an increase in profits
The state is set to collect CZK 1.6 billion from Prague Airport this year. The Chairman of the Board of Directors Václav Řehoř told Czech Radio that this was a logical consequence of the economic results of the airport which have been developing “above expectations“. He said that extraordinary revenues, such as the sales of air craft, played a role in the increased profits. Last year, the state collected only CZK 350 million, while in 2017 it was CZK 2.5 billion.
The airport is planning to invest tens of billions of crowns in the next few years. This will include a CZK 16 billion expansion of its second terminal, as well as a new parallel runway.
Despite an opening up of the skies over much of the Czech Republic, temperatures are expected to fall on Wedensday. In the east temperatures will be just above freezing point, while in the west of the country they will be slightly higher, hovering around 2 to 4 degrees Celsius.
Prime Minister’s ANO party 14 points ahead in the polls, according to STEMs November survey
Prime Minister Andrej Babiš’s ANO party maintained its lead in the polls in November, according to a newly published STEM agency survey. ANO received 34.9 percent of voter preference, leaving the second placed Pirate Party trailing far behind with 10.9 percent. The third placed Civic Democrats would receive 10.6 percent of the vote according to STEM, followed by the Freedom and Direct Democracy Party with 9.1 percent of preferences. The Mayors and Independents and the Communist Party both received just over 7 percent, while the Social Democrats, who are currently in government with ANO would get 6.4 percent. The last party to cross the required 5 percent threshold to get into the lower house of Parliament are the Christian Democrats with 5.5 percent. TOP 09, which currently sits in the Chamber of Deputies would receive just 3.7 percent.
According to the Czech News Agency, the survey was carried out after the November 17 protests against the prime minister, but before last week, when he was both found to be in a conflict of interest by a European Commission audit and criminal charges for subsidy fraud were restarted against him.
Constitutional Court rules in favour of eight Taiwanese citizens threatened with extradition to China
The Constitutional Court ruled to uphold a complaint by eight Taiwanese citizens who are currently being held in custody after receiving so-called subsidiary protection in the Czech Republic for one year, Czech Television reported on Tuesday. The eight individuals are suspected by China to have run a gang responsible for eliciting tens of millions of crowns from several Chinese women in Prague and China is asking that they be extradited. However, according to the constitutional judges their detention is devoid of purpose because extradition is not yet possible. The case has been returned to local courts in Prague which are to decide on the length of incarceration.
The suspects deny their guilt and have stated that they fear the use of torture, or execution in China, in part due to the hostile relationship between China and Taiwan for the past 70 years.