Daily news summary


Army chief-of-staff says military could send 250 soldiers to CAR

The Czech military could send up to 250 soldiers, who were originally to be deployed in Mali, to the U.N. mission in the Central African Republic, army chief-of-staff Petr Pavel told the ctk news agency on Tuesday. On a visit to Prague last week UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asked Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka to consider sending Czech soldiers to the planned U.N. peacekeeping operation in the Central African Republic where violent clashes between Christians and Muslims have so far claimed hundreds of lives and left one million people displaced. Defense Minister Martin Stropnický said he would consult the matter with the Foreign Ministry and present the government with a proposal as soon as possible.

Dawn launches petition to tighten EU immigration policy

The opposition party Dawn has launched a petition calling for the tightening of EU immigration policy. Dawn’s chairman Tomio Okamura told reporters on Tuesday that his party would not tolerate illegal immigration and it would like to introduce strict quotas for legal migrants. "The Czech Republic does not need unadaptable foreigners or religious fanatics, they need us, they want to sponge off our system," Okamura said, adding that there are millions of the unemployed people in Europe whom their governments should help instead of supporting foreigners. Dawn members are collecting signatures all over the Czech Republic.

PM to meet with sacked head of prison service

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka is to meet with Petr Dohnal, the former head of the Prison Service who was recalled from his post last week by Justice Minister Helena Válková. The justice minister cited loss of trust in Mr. Dohnal and in his abilities to reform the prison service successfully. The dismissed head of the prison service says he will attack her decision in court, considering it unjust and ungrounded. The prime minister has said he wants to hear both sides of the story.

Czech Republic to mark 10 years of EU membership

Preparations are underway for celebrations marking the 10th anniversary of the country’s accession to the European Union on May 1st. The authorities are planning a series of events including conferences, exhibitions and concerts. An international conference entitled “The Czechs through the eyes of Europe, Europe through the eyes of Czechs” is taking place at Prague Castle this Friday. It will be addressed by President Miloš Zeman, European Parliament President Martin Schulz, Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka, EU Commissioner for Expansion Stefan Fule and former Italian prime minister Mario Monti, among others. EU President Herman van Rompoy will be present at the celebrations, arriving in Prague on April 30.

Parties draw lots for European Parliament elections

The parties running in elections to the European Parliament were given numbers in a draw organized by the state electoral commission on Tuesday. The numbers determine the order of the ballots which voters will receive and parties will be able to use the numbers in their campaigns. In total, 38 groupings are running in the EP elections scheduled for May 23-24.

Press: Palestinian ambassador in Prague killed by semtex explosive concealed in book

The former Palestinian ambassador in Prague, Muhammad Jamal, who died in an explosion on New Year’s Day, was killed by a semtex charge concealed in a book, the daily Mlada fronta Dnes reported on Tuesday quoting police sources. An investigator told the paper the police was now only working with one version of what happened; the Palestinian diplomat was going through old things at the embassy with no knowledge there were two explosive charges among them. The police said last month he died after the charge exploded in his hands. The police are reportedly nearly 100 percent positive the explosive was the Czechoslovak-made semtex from the 1970s.

German President Gauck to visit Czech Republic next month

German President Joachim Gauck is set to arrive in the Czech Republic on a three-day official visit in early May, a spokesman for the Czech president said. The visit is planned between May 5 and 7. No details of the president’s programme in the Czech Republic have been released but the German head of state will likely take part in commemorating the end of WWII as well as the Prague uprising against the Nazi rule which began on May 5, 1945. Mr Gauck and his Czech counterpart, Miloš Zeman, first met in Germany last June; the German president first officially visited the Czech Republic in 2012.

Two candidates in the running for police chief

Two candidates are in the running for the post of police president, vacated by the resignation of Martin Pecina in February, the ctk news agency reports. One of the candidates is Pecina’s former deputy Tomáš Tuhý, who is presently running the force as acting police president. The second candidate is the head of the Inspection Agency of the Police Force Dušan Brunclík. The next police chief will be selected by a special commission. A decision is expected early next week.

No agreement reached on compensation for scrapped hospital fees

Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka and Finance Minister Andrej Babiš on Tuesday failed to reach agreement on a state contribution to hospitals in compensation for the hospital fees that were scrapped at the beginning of this year. Although the government has approved a proposal to give hospitals 2.1 billion crowns in 2014 the two sides are still at odds over what financial assistance hospitals should get in the coming years. Finance Minister Babiš argues that hospitals could save vast amounts of money though better management and is opposed to generous hand-outs from state coffers. The issue will be debated again at Wednesday’s cabinet meeting.

High court upholds extraordinary sentence for brutal murders

The high court in Olomouc has confirmed a 30-year prison sentence for a 25-year-old man convicted of the brutal murder of two people. The court upheld the extraordinary sentence on the grounds of the exceptional brutality and callousness of the crime. The man, who admitted to the murders, killed his ex-girlfriends’ parents in their home as an act of revenge. Both suffered multiple stab wounds, many of them lethal. He then stole what cash there was in the house bought new clothes and a mobile and arranged a meeting with his former girlfriend. A thirty year sentence is the second highest punishment under Czech law, second to a life sentence.