Ten people had to be evacuated from their homes on Prague’s Národní Street on Wednesday morning after a fire broke out on the roof of their building, the historic Topičův Dum (Topič House). One person had to be treated in hospital for smoke inhalation. The fire began at around 4:30 in the morning and was put out by 7 am. Topičův Dum, located across from the National Theatre, has a rich history and is regarded as an important example of Art Nouveau architecture.
Tomáš Berdych has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters in Florida. The Czech men’s tennis number one easily overcame Sam Querrey of the United States 6-1 6-1 in just 51 minutes, a contrast with his previous outing when it took him two and a half hours to overcome Colombia’s Alejandro Falla. Berdych will now face Richard Gasquet of France for a place in the semi-finals.
The Chamber of Deputies has passed an amendment paving the way for the introduction of the electronic registration of firearms in the Czech Republic, to replace an outdated hardcopy registration system. The new system, which will now have to receive majority backing in the Senate, will also introduce other changes, extending, for example, the period of validity of firearm permits. The amendment is also meant to increase safety and security in the transport of firearms, to be overseen by the police. If passed into law, the legislation will come into effect in the middle of next year.
Police have sifted through some 300 tonnes of garbage at a waste site in the area of Jihlava since Tuesday evening, idnes and Tn.cz report, speculating that officials may have found the body of a 15-year-old girl missing in the area since mid-March. According to sources, she was last seen leaving a local discotheque with another individual. Both idnes and Tn.cz report that police had uncovered key evidence in the case and were holding a suspect who has allegedly already confessed to the girl’s murder.
Construction work at the AZ Tower in Brno – at 111 metres the tallest building in the Czech Republic – is complete; officials said that workers were now only finishing up the interiors. The AZ Tower, designed by architects Gustav Křivinka and Aleš Burian, edges the City Tower at Prague’s Pankrác by two metres. The building is slated to house offices, apartments, restaurants and shops and other services, including an auto salon and fitness club. The new building was designed to make use of Green technology in order to leave a smaller ecological footprint.
Reacting to the indictments at City Hall, the leadership of TOP 09 described the move as an incomprehensible criminalisation of political decision-making. The party said it guaranteed the integrity of its members, adding that the current council had been attempting to rectify the extensive corruption committed by the previous city government. A councillor from TOP 09, which is in coalition in Prague with the Civic Democrats, said Haguess was the only company capable of operating the system. Meanwhile, some opposition Social Democrats have called on Mayor Svoboda to step down.
A copy of a Baroque Marion column pulled down in 1918 should be erected on Prague’s Old Town Square next year, after the city council voted in favour of the move on Tuesday. The original column was torn down in November 1918 following the establishment of an independent Czechoslovakia by Czechs who felt it stood for defeat at the battle of Bílá Hora and the centuries of Habsburg oppression that followed. The Krocín Fountain, which was removed from the square in 1862 in connection with the construction of the Old Town Hall, should also be replaced under the plan.
An agreement has been signed in Prague on the creation of a new Václav Havel Human Rights Prize. Jointly created by the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly, the Václav Havel Library and the Charter 77 Foundation, the award will be presented every October to a group or individual that has been strongly engaged in the defence of human rights. Václav Havel, who died in 2011, led Czechoslovakia’s peaceful Velvet Revolution and was an active defender of freedoms in many parts of the world.
Police have filed a charge of breach of trust against 10 of a total of 11 Prague councillors in connection with the Opencard, a card-based electronic system used for public transport and other services. Among the 10 is the mayor of the city, Bohuslav Svoboda of the Civic Democrats. Officers delivered the indictment to a meeting of the council on Tuesday morning. The charge concerns the awarding of a contract to operate the system to the company Haguess, the only name considered in a closed tender process. The controversial Opencard system was previously found to have been massively overpriced.
Tomáš Berdych has advanced to the quarter-finals of the Miami Masters in Florida. The Czech men’s tennis number one had a lot of work to do to get past Alejandro Falla on Tuesday in a match lasting two and a half hours; Berdych went behind to the Colombian after losing the first set 2-6, but rallied to take the next two sets 7-6 and 6-4. The last remaining Czech in the women’s draw, Klára Zakopalová, exited the tournament after a 2-6 2-6 fourth-round defeat to Maria Sharapova of Russia.
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