Daily news summary
Czech army to take charge of EU training mission in Mali
The Czech army will take over leadership of the EU’s military training mission in Mali, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and Defence Minister Lubomír Metnar announced at an armed forces high-command meeting on Wednesday. According to the Czech News Agency, Czechs will lead the mission for six months. Their main task will be to help in the establishment and training of Mali’s army, which is currently fighting Islamic radicals in the country.
The Czech Republic currently has around 120 soldiers in Mali. So far, they have been in charge of maintaining security at the military mission’s main command in Bamako and a training base in the Koulikoro region.
Police want to test facial recognition technology in Prague
The police have asked the Prague authorities to activate a facial recognition function on security cameras at six locations in the city as part of a pilot project, the news site iRozhlas reported. This would allow the police to automatically monitor and record the movement of people caught on those cameras.
Prague City Hall will now consult the matter with the Office for the Protection of Personal Data. It previously refused to allow facial recognition technology to be used to track suspected football hooligans.
EHM conditionally agrees deal with ČEZ on mining Czech lithium
The Australian mining company European Metals Holdings (EMH) Limited has reached a conditional agreement with the Czech energy company ČEZ Group regarding a strategic partnership as well as large investment into a lithium mining project around Cínovec in the North West of the country, the Czech News Agency reports quoting a Wednesday statement by EMH. If the agreement passes a due diligence check and is approved by shareholders it will mean that ČEZ will pay EUR 34.06 million to receive a 51 percent share in Geodet, a subsidiary of EMH, which possesses the rights to mine in the area.
Lithium, a key component of electric car batteries, is sometimes referred to as the “metal of the future”. The Czech Republic is estimated to possess 3 percent of the world’s lithium reserves and the deposit around Cínovec is the largest in Europe.
The question of who owned the country’s lithium reserves was one of the key issues in the last general election in the Czech Republic. The Czech government is the majority owner of ČEZ.
Petříček: “Shocking violence in Hong Kong is no solution!”
Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček has voiced support for Monday’s EU declaration, which calls for restraint and constructive engagement in de-escalation efforts regarding the ongoing protests in Hong Kong. “Neither policemen and soldiers, nor the protesters should get away with acts of violence”, Mr. Petříček tweeted on Tuesday, stressing instead that “dialogue with protesters“ was key and that Hong Kong’s Basic Law, including the island‘s autonomy, should be respected. He finished with a message to the citizens of Hong Kong, writing that he supported their “non-violent fight” for rights.
Many, including the EU High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, have pointed to the continuing rise in violence in Hong Kong, including the ongoing police siege of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, which is being occupied by protestors.
Statisticians: Czechs die at an older age, but main causes of death remain the same
Mortality rates in the Czech Republic have declined by around one seventh in the last ten years. Those who do die, tend to pass at an older age than in previous decades, according to data presented by the Czech Statistics Office on Wednesday. However, the main causes of death - heart and vascular diseases – remain the same, being responsible for two thirds of the 112,920 deaths last year. Cancer, mainly of the lungs, is another recurrent cause of death.
According to Terezie Štyglerová from the Czech Statistics Office, the top three causes of death are the same for men and women. However, men are more likely to die from accidents, while for women the other main causes of death are Alzheimers, other types of dementia and diabetes.
Police crackdown results in nine charges of tax cuts and money laundering worth CZK 131 million
Seven individuals and two companies are facing charges of money laundering and illegal tax cuts worth more than CZK 131 million, a police press release announced on Wednesday. The charges were brought following a series of raids by the special “Tax Kobra” unit of the Czech police, which started in late October. Defendants could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.
According to the police, crimes were committed by issuing fictitious or purposefully overstated invoices from 2013 to 2018. A system of purpose-built chains of companies was used in committing the crimes. So-called “white horses”, individuals set up to commit a criminal offense and cover the actual perpetrator, were apparently put into the statutory bodies of companies that continued to be run by the defendants.
Doubravka wooden lookout tower in Prague damaged by fire
A distinctive wooden lookout tower in the Prague district of Kyje was damaged by fire on Wednesday morning, the city’s fire service said. Fire officers were able to quickly extinguish a fire on the lower part of one of three legs supporting the Doubravka tower. It was designed by architect Martin Rajniš, who is known for his wooden structures.
Most of the country will see heavy clouds and rain on Thursday, with temperatures ranging between 9 to 11 degrees Celsius.