Daily news summary
President to announce dates for lower house parliamentary elections on Friday
President Miloš Zeman has given notice that he will announce the date for elections to the lower house of parliament at the end of a three day tour of central Bohemia on Friday. He added that he wanted to give political parties adequate notice of when they would take place so they can book advertising space. According to the constitution, elections must be held at least 30 days before the end of a four year parliamentary term with the president obliged to give at least 90 days notice of when they will happen.
Court case reopens into Ztohoven Prague Castle red underpants stunt
A court case has been renewed over the actions of the Ztohoven stunt art group which hoisted a large pair of red underpants over Prague Castle in place of the presidential standard in late 2015. The prosecutor called on Wednesday for a conditional sentence for members of the group. She also outlined a claim for 88,000 crowns in damages for the standard, which was later ripped into pieces, and for damage to the castle roof as well as non-material damages of 300,000 crowns. That compensation demand has been disputed by the defence. The artists, who gained access to the roof disguised as chimney cleaners, say the whole action was an expression of free speech underlining their disagreement with the stance of President Miloš Zeman. The court eventually delivered conditional sentences on the three members of the group and demanded they pay 8400 crowns for the standard and 55,000 for damage to the castle roof.
Internet petition calls for justice for Czech killed in London
An Internet petition has been started protesting the Old Bailey, London, court verdict which set free on April 3 a British man accused of killing a Czech outside a fast food joint in the East End last year. The petition’s founder writes that against all evidence the accused was found not guilty of either murder or manslaughter by a jury. The petition will be sent to the British Home Secretary when 2,500 signatures were accumulated. It already had 2,260 mid-morning Wednesday. The case of the deceased Czech, Zdeněk Makar, has been taken up by Czech foreign minister Lubomír Zaorálek. He called in the British ambassador to Prague, Jan Thompson, for an explanation and was due to speak to his British counterpart, Boris Johnson, on Wednesday.
Zaorálek later said he had sent a diplomatic note to London calling for all details of the trail and asking for information how the verdict could be appealed. After his meeting with Johnson, he also said he had sought assurances that the victim's Czech nationality was not a factor in the killing.
Human rights minister highlights danger of residency appeal amendment for foreigners
Human rights minister Jan Chvojka has warned that an amendment from a fellow Social Democrat member of parliament, Václav Klučka, would restrict the rights of foreigners and EU citizens when it comes to residency permits. According to the daily Právo, he highlighted the fact that foreigners denied residency would lose their right of a court appeal. Klučka’s amendment is said to enjoy wide support in parliament.
Czech retail sales rise by annual 4.8 percent in February
Czech retail sales advanced by 0.9 percent on the previous month in February and by 4.8 percent on the same month in 2016 when adjusted for the number of days in the month, the Czech Statistical Office announced on Wednesday. Non-food sales rose higher, at a rate of 6.7 percent. The highest growth in sales was over the Internet and via mail order firms. The adjusted figures for January month on month sales were 1.0 percent and for year on year 3.3 percent.
Bohemians 1905 sack manager after lean spell
Management of Prague football club Bohemians 1905 has sacked their 65-year-old manager Miroslav Koubek. The move follows a series of poor results with no win since October last year which sees the club fighting off relegation in the top Czech league. A replacement has not yet been named. Club official have confirmed that they are talking with the manager of second division Vlašim, Martin Hašek.
MPs overturn presidential veto on national parks bill
MPs have overturned a presidential veto on new rules for the Czech Republic’s four national parks: Krkonoše, České Švýcarsko, Podyjí and Šumava. President Zeman had refused to sign the legislation, which had strong backing from environmental groups, saying it did not acknowledge the particularities of the Šumava national park. The Ministry of the Environment says the bill provides stability in that no changes can be made to a new system of zones in national parks for 15 years. The state is also now barred from selling off any of the land.
Bianca Bellová wins Magnesia Litera award with The Lake
The Magnesia Litera award for Czech book of the year has gone to Jezero (The Lake) by Bianca Bellová. The post-apocalyptic novel alludes to the collapse of the Soviet empire as well as pointing to today’s geopolitical situation. The prestigious Magnesia Litera for best work of prose went to Marek Šindelka’s Únava materialu (Material Fatigue), which was inspired by the recent migrant crisis. Prizes in six other categories were also handed out at Tuesday’s awards ceremony in Prague.
The weather on Thursday will be cloudy with rain and even snow showers in some places. Top daytime temperatures will range between 6 and 11 degrees Celsius.