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.
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.
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.
The Social Democrats have asked interim Prime Minister Jan Fischer to provide their party with security on the campaign trail ahead of the European elections on June 5-6. The Social Democrats’ rallies have been disrupted over the past couple of weeks by protesters throwing eggs at party head Jiří Paroubek. On Tuesday, senior Social Democrat Lubomir Zaorálek said that his party had written to Prime Minister Jan Fischer and Interior Minister Martin Pecina asking for a security staff to ensure that this disruption stopped. Later on Tuesday afternoon, the Czech Police said that they would not intervene at Social Democrats’ rallies. The recent spate of egg-throwing attacks on Jiří Paroubek has become one of the most discussed issues in the run up to European elections in the Czech Republic. Mr Paroubek has accused his political rivals, the Civic Democrats, of being behind the attacks.
Czech President Václav Klaus is ready to support proposals for Czech troops’ foreign missions in 2010, a spokesperson from the presidential office told press on Tuesday. The announcement was made after the president met interim Defence Minister Martin Barták and head of the Czech army Vlastimil Picek on Tuesday morning. According to Prague Castle spokesman Radim Ochvat, in the course of the meeting, proposals for the Czech army’s foreign missions next year were outlined to the president, who found the draft ‘reasonable’ and was ready to support it. Defence Minister Martin Barták said last week that a vote should be taken on the Czech Republic’s foreign missions in the lower house in June.
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