Daily news summary
Senators call on President Zeman to stop dividing nation
A group of 17 senators for the Christian Democratic and Stan parties have asked President Zeman to stop dividing the nation and undermining the importance of human rights. In an open letter to the head of state, the senators criticized Mr Zeman’s views on Russia and China, and said he jeopardized the Czech Republic’s “vital ties” to its allies, the EU and the US. The senators also suggested the president should reconsider his communication methods, which have been rejected by the Czech public. The letter of the senators comes in the wake of a series of controversial moves by the Czech President including the questioning of the EU’s sanctions against Russia.
Top prosecutor files appeal in lobbyist Janoušek’s case
The chief Czech prosecutor, Pavel, Zeman, has filed an appeal in the case of controversial lobbyist Roman Janoušek. Mr Janoušek was sentenced to three and half years in prison for a hit and run incident; in 2012, he ran over a woman with his car while drunk. He was sentenced for aggravated bodily harm but prosecutors; however, he was originally charged with attempted murder, and the chief prosecutor has now asked the Supreme Court to reconsider the charge, arguing that Mr Janeček must have been aware he could kill the woman. Roman Janoušek is an influential businessman who allegedly used his ties to Prague City Hall officials to influence their decisions and manipulate public procurement deals.
People evacuated over munitions depo blasts allowed to return home
Some 400 people evacuated from their homes on Wednesday over explosions at a munitions storage site in eastern Moravia have been allowed to return home, the police said. The inhabitants of two villages in the vicinity of the site had to leave after new explosions occurred; however, the last blast was heard on Thursday, and pyrotechnics experts said there was no immediate threat to the surrounding communities. The storage facility, run by a private firm, first exploded in October, killing two employees. The authorities say it could take months before the site is cleared of all remaining munitions.
Parents of children with disabilities complain over difficulties with securing state support
Many parents of children with autism and other disabilities complain over difficulties they face when applying for state support, the Czech National Disability Council said on Friday. The groups says that officials often do not recognize their entitlements and allocate lower allowances than granted by law. The head of the National Disability Council, Václav Krása, told reporters the number of complaints from parents had increased, and accused institutions of acting in breach of existing legislation.
Lower house approves lawmakers’ pay raise
After weeks of debates, the lower house of the Czech Parliament on Friday approved a 3-percent hike in the salaries of lawmakers. The motion, proposed by the coalition Social Democrats, was backed by MPs from the Christian Democrat, Communist and ANO parties. The issue of raising lawmakers’ salaries became the subject of controversy in the lower house; if no motion was approved, the salaries of deputies and Senators would automatically increase by 26 percent in January, a hike deemed too high by many lawmakers. The legislation is not set to be debated by the Senate.
Prague’s Staroměstská metro station temporarily closed
The Staroměstská station on the A line of Prague’s metro has been temporarily closed in order to inspect the station’s escalators, the city’s transport authority said. The closure comes after three people suffered injuries last week when an escalator at the Můstek station suddenly went into reverse. The Staroměstská station, located in Prague’s Old Town district, will remain closed for an estimated two weeks. In total, 12 escalators are to be checked in the coming weeks.
Chomutov man charged with vote-buying
Police charged a 45-year-old man from the north Bohemian town of Chomutov with vote-buying, the fifth person in the region to be accused of the crime. Investigators say that during the municipal elections in October, the man gave several people pre-filled ballots and paid them 200 crowns as a reward. The police did not specify which party benefited from the fraud; however, last month, a regional court ordered a new election to take place in Chomutov after 79 identically filled-in ballots had been identified, all of them benefiting several Social Democrat candidates. Police are looking into another five similar cases of election rigging in northern Bohemia.
Dozens of police officers search for escaped convict in Kutná Hora
Dozens of police officers, aided by a helicopter, searched for escaped convict Jan Novák in the area of Kutná Hora on Thursday night, after being tipped off the man had been sighted at a local bar and gambling terminal venue. Novák, considered armed and highly dangerous, escaped from a Prague hospital last week by jumping from a second-story window; two members of the detail guarding him have since been suspended. Police on Thursday searched the venue and other parts of the town, including the local bus and train stations but found no sign of the escapee.
Czech singer Hana Hegerová hospitalized
Renowned Czech singer Hana Hegerová is in hospital after suffering an apparent heart attack on Thursday; the 83-year-old, who retired from show business three years ago, is in an induced coma at the General Teaching Hospital in Prague, a spokesman confirmed. He was not at liberty to reveal further details. Hana Hegerová is best-known for chansons; she worked closely with composer Petr Hapka, who died at the end of November at the age of 70 and was laid to rest on Thursday.
Football: Plzeň sign Bosnian striker Mahmutovič
Czech top division leaders Plzeň have signed the Bosnian striker Aidin Mahmutovič, beating an offer from league rivals Sparta Prague. The 28-year-old forward spent the last six seasons in Teplice where he scored 58 goals. He signed a 3.5-year contract with Plzeň who reportedly spent 10 million crowns on the transfer.