Daily news summary


Justice Ministry says Czech Republic could not prosecute Fayad

The Justice Ministry has dismissed the idea that Lebanese terrorist suspect Ali Fayad could have been prosecuted in the Czech Republic. Deputy Justice Minister Petr Jager said the legal conditions for this were not met. The opposition TOP 09 party on Friday accused the government of having violated Czech and international law in releasing terrorist suspect Ali Fayad who was wanted by the US authorities. The party claims that since the Czech Republic refused to extradite him he should have been prosecuted here. Fayad was released on the order of the Czech justice minister on the same day that five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon returned home.

Defence Minister Stropnicky to remain in office

Defence Minister Martin Stropnicky, who is under fire for speaking freely to the media about the case of the five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon, will remain in office. Following a meeting of coalition leaders on Friday, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka said the minister had erred, but not to such an extent that he should be sacked. Stropnický told the daily Hospodarské noviny last week that the release of five Czechs kidnapped in Lebanon was conditional on Prague's decision not to extradite terrorist suspect Ali Fayad to the US. Deputy PM Pavel Bělobrádek on Thursday called on Defence Minister Martin Stropnický to consider resigning from his post. Similar calls have come from the opposition on the grounds that the defence minister had committed a grave breach of security.

Turkish national not to be extradited to his homeland

A Turkish national, convicted in his homeland of a crime with a terrorist subtext, will not be extradited to Turkey, the regional court in Hradec Kralove ruled on Friday. Nazmi Sahin, 30, was arrested in the Czech Republic last year on an Interpol warrant. His lawyer Zuzana Dostalkova dismissed claims of terrorism, saying that her client had been convicted of political activities which she likened to dissident activities in communist Czechoslovakia. The judge ruled Sahin was free to go. He had been moving around Europe for six years and has reportedly been granted political asylum in Italy.

Lower house debates migrant crisis

The lower house on Friday met to debate the migrant crisis and the official stance of the Czech government to developments. Opposition deputies criticized the government for not having rejected mandatory refugee quotas outright and expressed concern over the fact that the EU was not able to bring the influx of refugees under control. Foreign Minister Lubomír Zaorálek defended the government’s stand, saying that the priorities were to secure the EU’s outer borders, bring the flow of migrants under control by establishing functional registration hot spots and maintain the Schengen open space.

President Zeman: Europe must deport economic migrants and religious fanatics

President Miloš Zeman has said that the solution to the migrant crisis in Europe is the deportation of all economic migrants and religious fanatics. Speaking at a conference on social democracy in Bratislava, Mr. Zeman said Europe should not underestimate the danger of jihadists infiltrating the continent in the migrant wave and setting up dormant terrorist cells in Europe. The president said Europe’s Social Democrats must take responsibility for the defence of European values.

Fire damages part of Prague National Museum main building

A massive fire broke out overnight at the main building of Prague’s National Museum at the top of Wenceslas Square, one of the main landmarks of the capital. Around 20 fire crews were rushed to the scene with the fire given the highest danger level. The fire was brought under control after around an hour with around 200 square metres of the roof damaged. The blaze could have been started as a result of ongoing massive reconstruction works at the building which has resulted in it being closed to the public with the exhibits removed for storage.

Tomáš Holub to be new Bishop of Plzen

Tomáš Holub, general secretary of the Czech Bishops Conference and dean of the Basilica and Royal Collegiate Church of St Peter and St Paul, has been appointed Bishop of Plzen. The appointment by Pope Francis was announced by the papal nuncio in the Church of St. Bartholomew in Plzen. Tomáš Holub will replace the outgoing bishop Frantisek Radkovský on April 30th. Radkovský announced his resignation upon reaching the age of 75. Holub served as the Czech Army’s first military chaplain.

Judge given five year sentence for taking bribes and softening sentences

A Prague court has cut the sentence on former judge Ondřej Havlín by 15 months to five years and three months at appeal. A former state prosecutor František Fiala’s prison sentence was also confirmed but cut to three years and 10 months. Havlín and others were found guilty of influencing court cases in favour of the accused, mostly drink drivers, in return for bribes and other favours. The sentences are now binding.

Czech crown jewels to go on display in May

The Czech crown jewels will go on display at Prague Castle in May as part of events marking the 700th anniversary of the birth of Czech king and Holy Roman emperor Charles IV, the head of Prague Castle administration David Šebek told the ctk news agency on Friday. The crown jewels will be put on display at Vladislav Hall from May 15 until May 29 and admission will be free of charge. The collection was last displayed in May 2013 to mark the election of Miloš Zeman president.

Koller not to perform alongside Ortel

Czech singer David Koller has announced he will not be performing at venues at which the highly controversial Czech band Ortel makes and appearance. Ortel, whose hateful lyrics primarily target religious and ethnic minorities, is currently riding high on anti-immigrant sentiments. Last year, the largely unknown band from Plzeň jumped from 105th spot to fourth place in the Český Slavík competition. Koller, on the other hand, often takes a public stand against left and right extremism.