Daily news summary


Police asks Chamber to lift immunity of ex-Prague mayor Svoboda

The police have requested that the Chamber of Deputies vote to lift the parliamentary immunity of former Prague mayor and current MP Bohuslav Svoboda. The Civic Democrat politician is accused of breach of trust due to negligence. The case reportedly concerns a contract Mr. Svoboda signed with lawyer Václav Láska for an analysis of suspicious contracts at Prague’s transport authority without consulting other councillors. The lower house has already lifted Mr. Svoboda’s immunity in connection with an investigation into the Opencard, an electronic card system for transport and other services.

Police arrest man over logs dropped on vehicles from motorway bridge

Police in Olomouc have arrested a 32-year-old man on suspicion of dropping logs of wood from a bridge over the country’s most important motorway, the D1. The logs, which weighed up to 20 kilogrammes, were launched from a bridge on the border of Hranice in the Přerov district and the Moravia Silesia Region last Thursday. Twenty-eight cars were damaged and one person was injured. The police have not ruled out charging the man with attempted murder.

Handicapped demonstrate against Zeman over separate education comments

Around 30 handicapped people held a protest during a visit by President Miloš Zeman to the small town of Krásná Lípa in Central Bohemia on Tuesday after he said recently that handicapped and able-bodied children should not attend the same schools. One of the organisers of the demonstration, Monika Lampová, told Novinky.cz that just 20 years ago handicapped people were hidden away in the Czech Republic and that integration was the only way forward.

President refuses to apologise over reference to legendary journalist

President Miloš Zeman will not apologise for suggesting that Ferdinand Peroutka, regarded as one of the greatest ever Czech journalists, was an admirer of Nazism. The Ferdinand Peroutka Association published an open letter calling on the head of state to either apologise or retract a statement last week in which he said the writer, who died in 1978, had written an article entitled Hitler is a Gentleman. The association says the piece was written by a different author. Mr. Zeman’s spokesman said the president was an admirer of Peroutka’s and had merely highlighted his “short-term failure” in the run-up to WWII.

Czech firm gets license to produce Pandur armoured vehicles

The Czech firm Excalibur Army has won a license to produce Pandur armoured vehicles for selected markets in Eastern Europe and Asia, the daily E15 reported on Tuesday. The company acquired the license from Austria’s Steyr, which is a branch of the US-based General Dynamics Land Systems. Excalibur Army’s first Pandur contract will be to service 107 of the vehicles owned by the Czech Army.

Czech Republic faces flu epidemic

The Czech Republic is facing the start of a broad flu epidemic across all 14 of its regions including the capital, Prague, Chief Hygiene Officer Vladimír Valenta told Czech TV on Monday. According to the official, the number of those infected is expected to jump significantly over the next two weeks. In the first week of 2015, the number of flu cases rose by almost 95 percent and those with acute respiratory illnesses by 23 percent, according to the National Referential Laboratory. It is still possible to get a flu shot for the time being, although no longer ideal, the chief hygiene officer said.

Czech Republic sees highest number of TBE cases

The Czech Republic continues to have the highest incidence of tick-borne encephalitis in Europe, although the number of cases decreased last year to a total of 406. Similar decreases, however, were reported all over the continent, Rastislav Madar, a member of the European working group for TBE, told the Czech News Agency. Only 23 percent of inhabitants of the Czech Republic are vaccinated against TBE, low compared to other EU countries. Neighbouring Germany and Poland, both with significantly higher populations than the Czech Republic, reported TBE decreases to 277 cases and 195 cases, respectively, in 2014. Austria, where almost 90 percent of inhabitants are vaccinated, registered only 80 cases last year.

Renowned translator from English Pavel Medek dies at 63

Pavel Medek, one of the leading Czech translators from English, has died at the age of 63, a spokesperson for his publishers said. Mr. Medek was well known for translating all seven books in the Harry Potter series in cooperation with his brother Vladimír. He was also an accomplished translator of novels in the crime, fantasy and sci-fi genres, as well as doing the Czech versions of the TV series Red Dwarf and Kojak.

Czech baritone Plachetka preparing for MET debut

The Czech baritone Adam Plachetka is preparing for his debut appearance at New York’s Metropolitan Opera on Wednesday. The 29-year-old will take the part of Masetta in Don Giovanni for 10 performances at the world famous venue. Hospodářské noviny reported on Tuesday that Plachetka was following in a long tradition stretching back to 1906 when tenor Karel Burian became the first Czech to sing at the MET.

Director Svěrák working on film based on Irish book

The Czech film director Jan Svěrák is working on a new English-language film based on an Irish book, the project’s producer Eric Abraham told the Czech News Agency. He did not reveal the book’s title. Mr. Svěrák is at present writing a screenplay but said he believed there was only a 20 percent chance the movie would actually get made. His most recent film, the fairy tale Three Brothers, was a box-office success in the Czech Republic, selling over 600,000 tickets last year. The director, whose Kolya took the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar in 1996, turns 50 later this week.