News Politicians slam Okamura for populist statement
Politicians across the board have denounced last week’s statement by Dawn party leader Tomio Okamura that the hundreds of Romanies who died in the Lety concentration camp were not Holocaust victims as shameful and populist. Mr. Okamura said in an interview for Parlamentnilisty.cz that the term concentration camp was highly misleading since Lety was a camp for people who avoided work and the Romanies who died in it died of old age or illnesses they developed as a result of their migratory lifestyle. The minister for human rights, Jiri Dienstbier, said Mr. Okamura should apologize and retire from politics, while TOP 09 deputy chairman Miroslav Kalousek described his words as “disgraceful, bordering on the criminal”. Mr. Okamura’s statement has evoked outrage across the political spectrum, and has also elicited criticism from the head of state. It is being linked to the autumn Senate and local elections with Mr. Okamura attempting to attract votes at any cost.
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A Prague Municipal Court has ruled that a shop owner must pay a 5,000 crown fine for posting the picture of a man who stole one of his electric bikes on Facebook. The picture was shared by hundreds of users thanks to which the police apprehended the thief in record time. However the shop owner was served a fine by the Institute for Protection of Private Data on the grounds that only the police had the right to see the footage from his security camera. Although the Prague Municipal Court originally ruled against the fine, the case went to the Supreme Administrative Court which requested another hearing.
Two months after the Brexit vote the Czech Embassy in London reports a heightened interest from British nationals with Czech roots in acquiring Czech citizenship. According to the news site aktualne.cz. the embassy is getting dozens of calls a day with requests for information regarding travel to the Czech Republic after Brexit and the possibility of having dual citizenship. Over 100 requests for Czech citizenship have been filed in the past two months alone. Aktualne.cz says embassies of other EU member states in Britain are getting similar requests.
Former Czech national football captain and Arsenal midfield star Tomáš Rosický has announced his return to Sparta Prague. Rosický’s contract with Arsenal terminated at the end of last season, fuelling speculation about his next move. Rosický last played in the Czech league for Sparta before quitting the club fifteen years ago for a high-profile transfer to Borussia Dortmund.
Prague Zoo has signed an agreement with Beijing Zoo on the loan of a Golden Snub-nosed monkey. The breed, indigenous to Central and Southwest China, cannot presently be found outside of Asia. Prague Zoo will thus be the first European zoo to acquire a specimen. The agreement also pertains to the loan of Giant Pandas for which Prague Zoo is currently building a special pavilion.
A large fire broke out at one of the Czech Republic’s biggest coal-fired power stations in Chvaletice, East Bohemia in the early hours of Tuesday morning. The blaze occurred in part of the power station that feeds coal into its boilers. Firefighters from 13 stations fought the blaze. The power station was disconnected from the network and will remain out of operation for several weeks at least. The damage has been estimated at 50 million crowns.
The Czech intelligence services are investigating an imam formerly active in Prague who apparently tried to radicalize the Czech Muslim community, the news site idnes reported. Imam Samer Shehadeh reportedly tried to dissuade members of the Muslim community from attending a Christian mass in a show of solidarity with people of a different faith by warning them that it would amount to a betrayal of Islam. Recordings of him preaching also indicate that he was more radical than the community assumed. According to Romana Červenková of the Czech Muslim community Shehadeh was a self-proclaimed imam without official accreditation and the community quickly distanced itself from him. Shehadeh then reportedly spent a brief time preaching in Bratislava from where he was forced out as well.
The Czech Republic is currently hosting the Ample Strike 2016 military exercise involving 1,500 soldiers from 17 NATO member and partner countries. The three week air-land integration exercise will take place in six operating areas across the Czech Republic as well as involving air bases in Germany, Hungary and Britain. Its aim is to harmonize cooperation between air controllers, aircraft crews and ground forces commanders. For the first time this year the exercise will also involve active reserve troops.
Two passenger trains collided near the town of Chvalkov in southern Bohemia on Tuesday morning injuring nine people, including three children. According to a police spokeswoman none of the injuries were serious and all patients were treated in Pelhřimov Hospital. The cause of the accident, involving local trains on short routes, is being investigated, preliminary findings suggest human error was to blame. Neither of the trains was derailed during the accident. The preliminary damage estimate is around 800,000 crowns.
A Czech Airlines flight from Prague to Dusseldorf was forced to make an emergency landing in Frankfurt on Tuesday morning after the pilot reported a technical problem. According to a ČSA spokesman the plane landed safely and the company arranged for an alternative flight to Dusseldorf for the 55 passengers on board. The plane is now being inspected by technicians in Frankfurt.
Eight refugees who had been in Greece arrived in the Czech Republic last week under a European Union quota system for redistributing refugees. The group were subjected to security checks before being accepted. A total of 12 refugees have now been accepted in the Czech Republic under the EU scheme, which Prague had opposed. The Czech Republic is due to take in just under 2,700 people by the end of next year.