In 2009 state-owned Czech Railways transported 162.9 passengers, the lowest number in its history, the internet news site idnes reported. The figure represents a 7 percent drop on the preceding year. The information is said to have come from a report that Czech Railways sent the Transport Ministry. Until now, Czech Railway’s passenger numbers were at their lowest in 2003 when the company transported 172 million people. Czech Railways has refused to comment saying its annual report would be made public in mid-February.
Che Guevara, one of the leaders of the Cuban revolution, spent five months in hiding under a false identity in communist Czechoslovakia in 1966, the Mlada fronta Dnes daily reported on Friday, following archive research. Che Guevara is believed to have spent the time in the village of Ladvi, 25 km south-east of Prague. According to verbal accounts he lived there with friends and his secret-agent girlfriend Tamara Bunke. The Cuban revolutionary allegedly departed from Czechoslovakia in July of 1966, using a false Uruguayan passport. He was killed a year later, when he led a rebellion in Bolivia.
A seven-year-old boy was reported to be shaken but unhurt after falling from a ski lift at the Lipno ski resort. According to the CTK news agency the boy fell from a height of approximately three meters after his older siblings sitting on the lift-bench with him loosened the seat belt too soon in anticipation of reaching their destination. The boy fell into deep snow which protected him from serious injury.
A nineteen-year-old youth who murdered his classmate six years ago has been released from a home for juvenile delinquents. He is reportedly looking for work as a waiter and has a clean criminal record. News of his release caused unease in his home town where the parents of the girl he murdered still live. When the case was in court, psychologists and sex therapists reported that the boy suffered from a serious sexual deviation and had a number of psychological problems. He remains on medication and is obliged to see his therapist at regular intervals. The townspeople want to petition Parliament for a change of legislation which would lower the age of criminal responsibility and protect the public better against perpetrators of serious crimes no matter what their age.
The police are searching for three young men who are believed to have started a fire on a Prague bus shortly before midnight on Friday. The bus was carrying passengers when the fire broke out in its rear end. The driver immediately opened the doors for evacuation and in the scurry the youths believed to be responsible disappeared. The bus was completely destroyed in the blaze, but no one was injured. The police are questioning witnesses and using Prague’s camera system to trace the youths who are believed to have started the fire by setting off fireworks inside the bus.
Czech NGOs have raised just over 47 million crowns in aid of earthquake victims in Haiti. The money is being used for medicaments, shelter and deliveries of food and clean water to survivors. The NGO People in Need has sent a team of Czech doctors and nurses to Haiti to help in the humanitarian effort. In addition to that, the Czech government has earmarked 20 million crowns in aid, most of which will be used in the reconstruction process.
Three Czech officers are to take part in the EU’s Operation Atalanta which protects vessels against pirates off the coast of Somalia, the Czech Defense Ministry reported. Atalanta is the European Union’s first naval operation and is being conducted in the framework of the EU’s security and defence policy. It was launched at the start of 2009 and scheduled for an initial period of twelve months, but has now been extended by the Security Council until December 2010. During this period up to 12 EU ships and a number Maritime Patrol Aircraft will operate off the Somali coast. The three Czech officers are starting their mission in London next week.
Czech midfielder Lukas Mareček is transferring from Czech League´s Brno to Anderlecht Brussels, raising the number of Czechs in the team to four, Pavel Zika from the Sport Invest company told CTK news agency. He said the transfer would be definitively sealed next week when Mareček, 19, undergoes health tests. The three Czechs whom Mareček will join in Anderlecht Brussels are goalie Daniel Zitka, who has been playing for the club for eight years, midfielder Jan Polák, who has been with Anderlecht for three years and is expected to return to the pitch after a knee surgery he underwent last autumn, and defender Ondřej Mazuch, Mareček´s fellow player in the Czech under 21 team.
An eighteen-year-old driver sustained fatal injuries in a car crash near Jihlava on Saturday following a chase with traffic police. The officers say they saw the young man get into his car showing clear signs of intoxication. When they approached him he sped off and in the chase that followed he hit a snow drift, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a tree. He died of his injuries several hours after being transported to hospital. The incident is being investigated.
Eight Czech citizens have been found guilty by a court in Strasbourg of aggravated procuring. The eight, who were operating out of France, received jail terms of between one and eight years. Further details regarding the case are not known, the Czech News Agency reported. In March of last year, a similar case made headlines. A former Czech model and a French photographer were suspected of operating a crime ring involved in trafficking high-end prostitutes. The case is still being investigated. French police regularly look into cases of prostitutes being trafficked to France from Eastern European countries.