A Prague district court has ruled that a suspect who held-up a bank in Prague this week will remain in custody ahead of trial. On Wednesday, the 51-year-old assailant held two bank employees hostage for close to four hours, before being apprehended by a special police unit. No one was hurt in the incident. The suspect, who had demanded three million crowns in cash, told police on Thursday he had acted in response to blackmail by an unspecified party. According to reports, the suspect has had trouble with the law in the past, having been sentenced eight times for fraud and financial impropriety over the last three years.
The zoo in Dvůr Králové is preparing to fly four of its extremely rare Northern White rhinos (of only eight in the world) to Kenya at the weekend in an attempt to try and save the sub-species from extinction. The idea is to enhance breeding conditions for the rhino. But the plan has come under criticism by those who fear the transfer will be too risky - given the temperature differences between Kenya and Central Europe. The director of the Dvůr Králové zoo has defended the move saying the animals deserved a last chance in their natural habitat. Dvůr Králové has six Northern White rhinos in all, while the Wild Animal Park in San Diego, California has two. The Czech rhinos are the only ones to have reproduced in captivity. The animals are a sub-species of the White Rhino.
The head of Czech Post (Česká pošta), Petr Sedláček, has announced the intent to step down as CEO by the end of the year. He informed Interior Minister Martin Pecina of his decision on Friday. Mr Sedláček cited as the reason the fact there was, in his view, not enough political agreement about Czech Post’s future. The firm was previously to have been transformed into a joint-stock company. Some reports have suggested that the Social Democrats have pushed for Mr Sedláček’s departure, but the media reported earlier he has received an offer from another firm.
A car thief in Olomouc, Moravia, was shot and killed by the police early on Friday during a dramatic getaway. The man, who had stolen a Škoda Octavia at around 3 am, was followed by police in quick pursuit. Eventually, he abandoned the stolen vehicle for a getaway car, where an accomplice was also waiting. According to reports, as the car sped away, one of the officers managed to climb in. But – in danger of falling out and attacked by the suspects – he was forced to use his firearm – killing the driver and wounding his accomplice. The latter underwent an operation in hospital and is in stable condition.
Retired Czech footballer Pavel Nedvěd will return to the pitch next week for the first time since ending his career in May. The 2003 European footballer of the year will join other greats such as France’s Zinedine Zidane as well as current players in a match between European and African sides to fight against racism. Nedvěd will captain the European side, Didier Drogba, the African team. Funds raised in the match will go to African children as well as towards research on the neurodegenerative disease ALS - Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The match will take place at the Olympic stadium in Turin, Italy on Monday.
The head of Prague's emergency services has reported that two people died in freezing temperatures after spending the night on the street on Thursday. Both were around the age of 40. One man was found in Prague’s Malešice on Friday morning, the other in Řepy. It is unclear whether both were homeless. A day earlier, a 55-year-old homeless man froze to death in Ostrava, in the east of the country. The Czech Republic has seen unusually low temperatures for several days now - putting individuals without shelter at high risk.
The Czech daily Lidové noviny has reported that the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg ruled back in September that a Czech court’s sentencing of former Communist official Karel Hoffman, was just. Mr Hoffman, a former head of telecommunications in communist Czechoslovakia, ordered Czechoslovak Radio broadcasts off the air following the Soviet-led invasion of August 21st, 1968. Over 30 years later he was sentenced to four years in prison for his role in the invasion, but served just 25 days for health reasons. The European Court of Human Rights confirmed that the Czech Republic had not infringed on Mr Hoffmann’s freedoms; in response, the former Communist official criticised the court in November, calling it a “capitalist, bourgeois” entity.
Police have charged a man from Písek, south Bohemia, for violating copyright laws by illegally making available computer programmes as well as music and videos on the internet. The suspect reportedly violated copyright laws of at least 34 different parties, causing an estimated 600,000 crowns in damages (the equivalent of around 16,000 US dollars). If found guilty, he could face up to five years in prison.
The number of people suffering acute flu symptoms in the Czech Republic has dropped by 13 percent. According to statistics, there are currently 1,475 cases per 100,000 people, the Health Ministry reported. The drop has continued for the third straight week and the situation is comparable in all 14 of the country’s regions. All the same, a number of schools throughout the country continue to register high flu incidence and some have even temporarily closed. Along with the common flu, complicated cases of swine flu also remain epidemiologist Jan Kynčl told the Czech news agency. 38 people in the country have succumbed to swine flu since October. According to officials, the majority of those who died from the swine flu also suffered other long-term illnesses.
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