Daily news summary
Czech Republic signs up to letter protesting human rights abuses in China
The Czech Republic was one of 11 countries which signed a letter to the Chinese government highlighting human rights abuses. The letter was signed by Bedřich Kopecký on orders from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, according to Czech media reports citing confirmation from the foreign ministry. The precise details of the letter has not been revealed, though it is said to highlight torture, prison isolation, and other abuses of lawyers and other involved in the promotion of human rights in China. The reports highlighted the fact that no publicity had been given in the Czech Republic to the move, said to have been initiated by the EU representation in Beijing. Four top Czech political figures, including the president and prime minister, signed a controversial declaration in October last year apologising for high profile meetings in Prague with the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama.
Supreme court orders release of convicted lobbyist Marek Dalík
The Supreme Court has ordered the release from prison of infamous Czech lobbyist and advisor to former prime minister Mirek Topolánek, Marek Dalík. Dalík has been serving a five year sentence, later reduced to four, for taking bribes. The reasons for the court ruling are to be given in writing. Dalík was investigated by police and later sentenced over a massive army contract for transporters from the Austrian company Steyr with the court originally accepting that he promised to influence the contract for payment of 18 million euros, around 500 million crowns. Dalík maintained he was not guilty.
Czech Fed Cup team weakened for semi-final tie against US
The Czech team to face the United States in the semi-final of the Fed Cup will be without some of its strongest players, non-playing captain Petr Pála announced on Wednesday. Top women’s player Karolína Plisková, the world number three, Barbora Strýcová. and Lucie Šafarová will all be absent for a range of health reasons and other commitments, the captain said. The tie is due to take place on 22 and 23 April in Florida. The Czech Republic has won the Fed Cup five times in the last six years.
Police cleared over actions during Chinese president’s visit
Czech police did not overstep the mark and commit offences during the heavy security imposed for the visit of Chinese president Xi Jinping in March last years, according to an internal investigation by the police which has been accepted by state prosecutors. The police internal inspectorate GIBS carried out a year long investigation and said no punishable offences had been found. Clashes took place during the visit between pro and anti-Chinese protestors. Many of those seeking to demonstrate in favour of Tibet and against China’s human rights record complained they were prevented by police from getting into public areas around Prague Castle. The police earlier found that two police officers did exceed their powers when they demanded a Tibetan flag be taken down from the Prague film school, FAMU.
Iranian mega tax fraud suspect behind bars despite court ruling
A municipal court in Brno ruled that Iranian businessman Shahram Abdullah Zadeh be freed from custody. He is facing charges of tax fraud amounting to around 2.5 billion crowns, described as one of the biggest tax frauds in Czech history, and since December last year has been in preventive custody on the grounds that he might flee justice or interfere with witnesses. The municipal court ruled that there was no danger Zadeh would flee due to a 150 million crown bail payment. The state prosecutor has disagreed and Zadeh will stay behind bars pending a new hearing at the regional court, Czech Radio reported. The tax fraud was focused on the transport and sale of fuel with supplies being shipped through Germany and Slovenia.
Tatra wins major army modernisation order without tender: report
Czech vehicle producer Tatra has landed an order of around 1.5 billion crowns to modernise the Czech army’s 33 self- propelled Dana howitzers, according to the business daily E15. The order was made without a public tender although other Czech firms might have been able to make bids as well, the paper reported. The modernised guns should be delivered from 2018 through to 2020. Tatra has turned around its fortunes in recent years after being bought by its current Czech owners in an auction after facing bankruptcy.
Senator and regional governor Čunek quits mayor's post
The Christian Democrats’ Jiří Čunek has resigned as mayor of Vsetín and as a member of the local council. Mr. Čunek, who is also a senator, had promised to quit after being elected governor of the Zlín region in November. He has not ruled out running for the leadership of the Christian Democrats in May. A former chairman of the party, he came to national attention for his treatment of Romanies, with critics said was discriminatory. He later became involved in a number of scandals and was forced to step down as regional development minister.
Christian Democrats and Mayors sign deal to contest elections together
The Christian Democrats and the Mayors and Independents group signed a coalition agreement on Wednesday under which they will contest general elections in October together. The deal follows around three months of coalition talks between the two sides. Commentators say together the Christian Democrats and Mayors (who were previously in an alliance with TOP 09) could prove a significant force. However, as a two-party coalition they will need to win at least 10 percent of the vote to make it into the lower house. The normal threshold is 5 percent.
Czech football association opens path to sale of Prague stadium
The Czech Football Association has opened the door to possible sale of the Evžen Rosický stadium in Prague, sited besides the massive Strahov stadium in the capital Prague. The association has agreed to put on the June agenda an item removing the obligation to maintain the stadium as a national sports centre until 2028. Czech media have reported the likelihood of the site being sold for real estate development. The stadium needs expensive upkeep and faces major reconstruction which would exceed the costs of building a new one, the reports point out. The site had at one point been earmarked for construction of a new national stadium and was used for national squad training sessions and at one time by Prague club Slavia Prague.
Thursday will be cloudy with both showers and sunny spells possible across the country. Top daytime temperatures will range between 8 and 14 degrees Celsius.