Czech President Václav Klaus has published a letter to his Estonian counterpart, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, affirming the importance of the two countries' relations. Mr Klaus unsettled the leaders of Estonia and Lithuania at the weekend when he suggested the interests of Russia deserve greater attention than those of the two Baltic countries. The Estonian foreign ministry said it had summoned the Czech ambassador over the comments. On Wednesday the Czech president denied intending any categorisation of countries as more and less important and emphasised the two countries’ friendship. At the same time Mr Klaus reiterated that Russia is a large, strong and ambitious state warranting greater attention than smaller states including the Czech Republic.
Czech Television has reported that a Romani family was attacked by unknown arsonists, who threw incendiary devices at the family’s home outside of Prague. According to the Czech Television the victims of the attack were unharmed and the fire was extinguished. The Romani community in the Czech Republic remains tense after a similar attack in April, in which a two-year-old suffered severe burns to more than 80 percent of her body.
Razor wire barricades fencing off the site of the planned American missile defence radar base in Brdy, south-west of Prague, have been definitively removed, the Czech Army has announced. The barricades were erected last year after members of Greenpeace occupied the hill to protest the construction of the base. The decision to remove them was made by new defence minister, Martin Barták, who stated the obstruction was no longer necessary. The controversial plan to build a radar base in the Czech Republic as part of a proposed US missile defence system has been put on indefinite hold by the new US administration.
The first official monument commemorating the 1942 assassination of Nazi Reichsprotektor Reinhard Heydrich was unveiled at the scene of the event on Wednesday. The 10-metre column honours not only Jan Kubiš and Josef Gabčík, the two Czech parachutists who carried out the assassination, but also 293 other unsung men, women and children who aided the partisans. Wednesday’s unveiling was attended by some 400 people, including a number of uniformed WWII participants and civilians who had been nearby at the time of the British/Czech operation, dubbed Anthropoid. Reinhard Heydrich was the acting protector of Bohemia and Moravia at the time of his assassination and was the third in command of the Nazi Party.
President Klaus also named 37 judges at a ceremonial swearing in at Prague Castle on Wednesday. The new appointments will be headed primarily to the district and circuit courts, with one going to the Supreme Administrative Court. Deputy Minister of Justice Vladimír Král was also appointed to sit on the Supreme Court in Prague. President Klaus called upon the new judges to take a rational approach to what he called an uneasy situation in the halls of justice. The appointment of judges is one of the authorities of the head of state according to the Czech constitution and requires the co-approval of a cabinet member. Since taking office President Klaus has named some 577 judges, or roughly one fifth of those currently seated.
Authorities in the Republic of South Africa withdraw permission to allow fugitive businessman Radovan Krejčíř to be questioned by the Czech Police. State representatives and police officers were notified of the change at the last minute after arriving in the country to investigate the death of Mr Krejčíř’s father, who the police believe was kidnapped in 2002 on account of his son’s debts and murdered. Radovan Krejčíř is under prosecution in the Czech Republic for extensive property fraud and violent crime. He escaped police detention in June of 2005 and has been living in South Africa since 2007.
Speakers at a pre-election rally of the Social Democrats in Prague, including the party chairman Jíři Paroubek, have once again been bombarded with eggs. The protest method by which the party has been harangued in recent weeks showed no intention of letting up Wednesday afternoon, as the number of eggs hurled moved into the dozens. Scuffles were also reported to have broken out among Social Democrat supporters and protesters, and at least one person was led away by police. President Václav Klaus has responded to the attacks by appealing to politicians and citizens alike to publicly reject and prevent what he labelled a threat to democracy. The spate of egg-throwing attacks, which have targeted primarily Mr Paroubek, has become one of the most discussed issues in the run up to European elections in the Czech Republic.
A powerful lightening storm Tuesday evening complicated transportation and flooded cellars around the country, particularly in the southwest. Strong winds of up to 100 km/h toppled trees and posed a particular problem for the railway system. Three railways tracks remained closed on Wednesday as maintenance crews worked to clear the debris. Parts of the Czech Republic saw heat records of 30.5 degrees Celsius on Tuesday prior to the storm, which brought a cold front in its wake with temperatures of 13-15 degrees.
Israeli police have arrested a man who, they believe, killed a Czech volunteer working in the Golan Heights in 2003. Advan Farhan was arrested on suspicion of four murders, one attempted murder, rape and two attempted kidnappings. He is thought to have killed the 27-year-old Czech with the help of his girlfriend when the volunteer hitched a lift with the couple in 2003. According to the Czech Consulate in Israel, the unnamed Czech was working in the country illegally and was identified by her boyfriend shortly after she was murdered six years ago. According to Israeli police, Mr Farhan has confessed to the murders though his motives remain unclear.
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