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.
For the daily news summary, available after 8pm CET, click here.
The Czech Ministry of Foreign Affairs has said no Czechs are believed to be among the victims of a shooting spree at a shopping centre in Munich, Germany, on Friday evening. Nine people were killed and the gunman, believed to be a 19-year-old German-Iranian, then turned the gun on himself. Around 21 people were injured. Czech police stepped up police patrols in shopping centres and increased border security after the incident. The motive for the attack is not yet known. The increased Czech border checks were cancelled Saturday.
A ceremony and commemorative events marked the 150th anniversary on Saturday of the ceasefire between the Austrian Empire and Prussia at Mikulov castle in South Moravia. The ceasefire signed at the castle in the presence of the Prussian Chancellor Otto von Bismarck brought to an end the short lived but bloody conflict between the two powers. The decisive battle was fought at Hradec Králové. An exhibition at the castle includes the table where the ceasefire was signed. The war established Prussia as the leading Germanic power in Europe.
Minister of the Interior Milan Chovanec said on his Twitter account Saturday that there is no suggestion that a specific terrorist or other threat applies to the Czech Republic at the moment. He added that the latest information from Germany was awaited after the Munich shootings on Friday evening. A meeting of Czech interior ministry, police, and security service officials is scheduled on Saturday afternoon to evaluate the security situation. At the moment a level one security alert applies to the country. That has been in place since the Brussels attacks in March. A one to four, with four the highest, security evaluation is in place.
Minister of Transport Dan Tok has called for a ban on motor vessels at 16 locations on the Slapy and Orlík reservoirs. He also wants to recommended a 10 km/hour speed limit be put in place in adjoining areas. The move follows an incident at the start of the month where two craft collided with a young girl later dying from her injuries. Rules for craft on rivers and lakes were relaxed last year but this has resulted in criticism of reckless behaviour and the greater risk of accidents and deaths as a result.
The total Czech state debt has climbed by around 18 billion crowns in the first half of the year according to the Ministry of Finance. That means the total debt now stands at 1.691 trillion crowns or around 160,000 crowns for every single Czech citizen. The Ministry of Finance said the debt total had climbed as the result of more state bonds being issued because of the favourable financial situation.
The European Commission has warned the Czech Republic that it will take the country before the European Court of Justice over its alleged refusal to take back waste sent to Poland. The Commission made its announcement Friday, saying that the Czech Republic is obliged to take back dangerous waste. But the Czech Republic has and says it will continue to contend the description of the waste, arguing that it is a fuel mix and not dangerous. A spokeswoman for the Ministry of Environment said that Prague is fully prepared to defend itself in court. The Commission has been dealing with the case since November 2014.
Czech javelin thrower Jakub Vadlejch has won his first Diamond League event. He threw 85.72 metres at the event in London in his second series of throws, ending up more than two metres ahead of reigning Olympic champion Keshorn Walcott. Previously, a second place was Vadlejch’s best placing in the top athletic series of competitions.
Police say they have charged a 33-year-old woman in connection with the murder in a Prague shopping centre of another woman on Thursday. The woman was reportedly stabbed to death with a weapon found in the Tesco store in the Smichov district. Police said the murder suspect had been released earlier in the day from a Prague psychiatric hospital where she had been undergoing treatment. The Ministry of Health has demanded to be informed about the results of the investigation being carried out by the hospital. The woman is currently being held in police custody.
In athletics, Martina Sábliková has announced that she will fly out to Rio at the end of next week ahead of the Olympics. Sábliková, a three-time speed skating medal winner in the Winter Olympics, will await a decision in Brazil on whether she can take part in the road cycling competition. The Czech thought she had booked a place in the Olympics with a ninth place in a speed trial in the World Championships last year but was stunned to learn just a few months ago that that no places had been earmarked for the Czech Republic on the basis of those times. Her last hope is the verdict from an appeal to an international sporting arbitration.
The REICO investment company, owned by one of the Czech Republic’s biggest banks Česká Spořitelna, is poised to buy the tallest office block in Prague, the City Tower. The pending purchase, with an estimated value of around 4.9 billion crowns, is being examined by the country’s competition office. The current owner is the PPF company of the country’s richest man, Petr Kellner. City Tower, at 109 metres, is the second tallest building in the country.