Torches were lit in front of Prague’s National Museum Thursday afternoon and in six other cities, as the country begins commemorations of the 1968 Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia. The commemoration at the National Museum was accompanied by a recording of Czechoslovak Radio announcing the invasion and the music of dissident folk singer Karel Kryl.
The Czech Republic’s largest open air music festival in Trutnov kicked off Thursday to a concert of drums as several thousand visitors arrive for an early start to the weekend’s events. This year’s programme is set to include over a hundred domestic and foreign performances including the bands Primal Scream, Anti-Flag, and Cavalera Conspiracy from Brazil. The Open Air Music Festival Trutnov has been an annual event since 1987, making it the oldest festival of its kind in the country. Previous years have seen crowds of up to 20,000 people.
Former state prosecutor Ludmila Brožová-Polednová, the oldest prisoner in the Czech Republic, will serve out the remainder of her eight-year sentence, the District Court of Hradec Králové has announced. The ruling cannot be further appealed. 87-year-old Mrs. Brožová-Polednová, who is currently suffering from a broken rib among other ailments, has appealed for the suspension of her sentence on health grounds, saying she cannot be effectively treated in prison. In 2007, Mrs. Brožová-Polednová was convicted for her participation in the 1950 show-trial by which democratic politician Milada Horáková was sentenced to death for conspiracy and treason.
Hard rock musician Aleš Brichta will not be investigated for dissemination of hate speech, police have stated. Mr Brichta came under fire recently for lyrics viewed as racist in the title track of his album Deratizér (exterminator). The lyrics in question referred to “politicians making idiots of everyone, gypsies stealing bicycles in the street, something should be done by an exterminator”. Mr Brichta denied any racist intent, saying the song’s protest was aimed at politicians.
Emergency rescue services in the Region of South Moravia held a large-scale drill on Thursday, involving hundreds of police, paramedics and firemen. The drill simulated a multi-vehicle pile-up on the Czech Republic’s main east-west motorway, the D1, in which dozens of people took part as casualties. Traffic on the D1 was purposely slowed during the exercise due to concern that the drill could distract rivers and cause real accidents. In addition to field-testing the readiness of the regions rescue services, the exercise was also intended to test the capacity of the region’s sole trauma centre.
Prague Police have arrested roughly 100 fans of the visiting Serbian football team, Red Star Belgrade, after violent clashes with the group in the city centre. The conflict apparently flared up after members of the crowd of roughly 200 fans began harassing passing tourists and their movements were restricted by the police force monitoring them. The group then proceeded to smash shop windows along Wenceslas Square and demolish one restaurant, throwing beer mugs at police and passers-by before being surrounded and arrested by riot police. Paramedics at the scene have treated a number of injuries. Czech Police have been on high alert since Wednesday evening when the fans began arriving, and several dozen of them were arrested within hours of crossing the boarder for robbing and vandalising filling stations. Prague Police called Red Star one of the rowdiest clubs in Europe and set up a number of security precautions, including mounted units and helicopter patrols, ahead of Thursday evening’s match against Slavia Prague.
The District Court of Plzeň has convicted 42-year-old opera tenor Robert Šícho to 10 years imprisonment for the attempted murder of a colleague. The court heard that on November 28 of 2008, under the pretext of a concert together, Mr Šícho had been driving his would-be victim, also an opera singer, to the western town of Mariánské Lázně, when he pulled the rented vehicle over and attempted to strangle him with a chord. The victim was able to release himself and telephone the police. Mr Šícho has maintained his innocence throughout, and intends to appeal the decision.
A third suspect in the Vítkov arson case, already in custody, has confessed to the crime. Twelve members of an extreme right group were detained last week, and police have charged four of them with racially motivated attempted murder, one of whom has pled innocent. The Molotov cocktail attack on the home of a Romany family in April left three people badly injured, primarily a two-year old child who suffered third-degree burns to 80% of her body.
A group of Eurosceptic senators who are vehemently opposed to the Lisbon treaty have found a new way of attacking it in court. They are preparing to question the validity of a recently adopted law that is to prevent the transfer of national powers to the EU without Parliament's consent on the grounds that it was not approved by a constitutional majority. The law was approved by both houses of Parliament and was decisive in winning support for the Lisbon treaty. Legal experts have made it clear that the senators would have little success in attacking the treaty itself. The Lisbon treaty still has to be signed by President Klaus who has said he will delay the process for as long as possible.
Barbora Špotáková came second in the javelin at the World Athletics Championships in Berlin on Tuesday night. The defending champion finished behind the home favourite Steffi Nerius, whose throw of 67.30 metres was 88 centimetres further than the Czech athlete’s best effort. Špotáková, who is 28, is currently Olympic javelin champion and holds the women’s world record in the sport, 72.28 metres.
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